Assembly Line Justice

Have you ever been convicted of or pleaded nolo contendere (no contest) to any violation of the law other than minor traffic tickets?

Millions of people, many of whom were convicted of petty crimes, must answer this question (a favorite of employers) in the affirmative. Indeed, the Wall Street Journal reported in a recent article on the processing of misdemeanor crimes that nearly 1 in 3 Americans has a criminal record.  While those records are based on arrests, not convictions, a substantial percentage of people charged with misdemeanor offenses are convicted.  North Carolina’s district courts, for example, disposed of more than 450,000 misdemeanor (non-traffic) criminal cases in the 2013-2014 fiscal year.  A third of those cases resulted in convictions. 

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