According to researchers from Texas A&M, New York University and Rutgers who studied data from Suffolk County in Massachusetts, not prosecuting low-level crimes leads to less crime overall. The three university researchers analyzed 67,553 misdemeanor cases in Boston, Winthrop, Revere and Chelsea between 2004 and 2018. The researchers also reviewed Boston crime data from January 2017 to February 2020.
The data was analyzed to see what effect current District Attorney Rachael Rollins' refusal to prosecute low-level nonviolent misdemeanors - such as shoplifting, drug possessions or motor vehicle offenses - would have on repeat offenses and crime overall. Rollins took office in 2019.
The study found significant reductions in reports of property damage, theft and fraud and zero increase in disorder and drug crime reports after 2019.
According to the study, those arrested but not prosecuted for low-level, nonviolent misdemeanors were 58% less likely to commit another crime in Suffolk County in the following two years. On the other hand, three out of four nonviolent misdemeanor prosecutions end without a conviction, yet still show up on a person's criminal record, affecting job prospects and even ability to secure housing.