Misdemeanor courts have been infrequently studied, despite their central importance in law enforcement and social control. More than 9096 of all criminal cases are heard by misdemeanor courts, thereby providing most of the general public with its only view of the criminal process. Our study of four misdemeanor courts--Austin, Texas; Columbus, Ohio; Mankato, Minnesota; and Tacoma, Washington--is an attempt to compare the sentences imposed, the processes leading to sentencing, and the influence of the local political and economic environments surrounding the four courts. An eclectic methodological approach was utilized, including collection of data from random samples of individual defendant case files, interviews with key court and political actors, and surveys of local citizen attitudes about crime and punishment in the lower courts.
US Department of Justice; Ragona, Anthony J.; and Ryan, John Paul, "Beyond the Courtroom: A Comparative Analysis of Misdemeanor Sentencing" (1984). National Institute of Justice Office of Justice Programs. 30.