Low-Level Offenses: The Cost of Enforcement in New Jersey Municipalities
Jane Allen, Yan Huang, Arcadia Lee, Holly Low, Kate Millsaps, and Thalya Reyes
This study analyzes the municipal costs associated with low-level offense enforcement by examining (1) the relationship between low-level offense enforcement and municipal spending and revenues, and (2) if poverty and race impact spending on low-level offense enforcement. A random sample of New Jersey municipalities with a population greater than 3,000 was selected for the study. The project utilized spending and revenue figures for police departments and municipal courts from 2015 municipal budgets. Data from the New Jersey Judiciary’s Municipal Court Statistics on disorderly persons” and “petty disorderly persons” court filings, which include marijuana possession under 50 grams, possession of drug paraphernalia, disorderly conduct, simple assault, petty theft, shoplifting, resisting arrest, and trespassing were used as a measure of low-level offenses.