Over-criminalization. It's an issue that doesn't get the attention that it deserves.
What's it all about? The fact that we have more criminal laws on the books (especially over the federal variety) that, essentially, puts everyone in jeopardy of being guilty of a felony and doing federal time. Meaning more people in more federal prisons. Taking up space where violent offenders should be. This as opposed to a better use of civil penalties.
Gene Healy has an excellent column over at the Examiner today on the issue. He notes the following:
There are now more than 4,000 federal crimes, spread out through some 27,000 pages of the U.S. Code. Some years ago, analysts at the Congressional Research Service tried to count the number of separate offenses on the books, and gave up, lacking the resources to get the job done. If teams of legal researchers can't make sense of the federal criminal code, obviously, ordinary citizens don't stand a chance.
He points out that the Founding Fathers....you know, those guys who actually established our government...wrote the document that outlined what the federal government could and couldn't do, etc...that they only listed three federal crimes in the Constitution. Yes, three. Treason, counterfeiting and piracy. But OUR federal officials are SO much smarter than those guys, right?
This isn't to say nothing else should be against the law. But it's a question of felony crimes vs. civil penalties...and a question of whether or not the long list of current "crimes" are any of the federal government's business vs. that of the states. read more »