As the old saying goes, when there are not enough criminals, one must create them.
If there's one area where we need severe reform, it is in the criminal justice system. We have too many people in the system, affecting our lives, budgets, and society. The root cause of that is too many laws. People complain about no respect for the law or authority these days. The truth is that the criminal justice authorities are not worthy of our respect. There's a good reason why people do not trust law enforcement.
We need to look at our corrections budgets on the state and federal level as we look to save tax money, but more importantly, we need to look at the regulations. As a less government conservative, we have so many regulations out there. It's so bad that I bet $10000 that 75% of the population in Michigan have committed a felony during their lifetime. 99% have committed a misdemeanor. I haven't even gotten to the federal regulations.
Redstate brings this to our attention. Who are the real criminals? It's us, and we don't know it. Luckily, Obamacare and the five years in prison threat has woken many people up. It's not enough.
We all hear that ignorance of the law is no excuse (which goes with the rise of strict liability crimes, even as felonies...what happened to mens reas?). If that's really true, than we are in deep shit. We are im deep shit. One professor, John Baker estimates that there are almost 4500 federal criminal statutes at of 2004. That number is probably higher today. I'd have to do a lot of digging to find all of those criminal statutes and administrative regulations. That's strictly federal criminal law. Michigan has a large number of criminal statutes. Counties, cities, and townships have their own regulations as well. I don't think even Rainman could remember all of the federal regulations out there that result in prison time. Even the tax law books alone are thousands of pages.
Heritage Foundation has a good checklist which was posted in the redstate article. It's some guidelines that should be thought about in criminal statutes in regulations.
Originally, felony was reserved for the worst of the worst. In historic times that meant what was then death penalty crimes. Murder. Rape. Robbery. Kidnapping. That's what the citizens need protection from. Now we have not paying the Obamacare fine for not having proper insurance. Possession of some types of drugs result in sentences up to life in prison.
Here's what Heritage asks.
Criminal Law Checklist:
- Should it be a crime?
- Is a new federal criminal law needed
- What should criminal intent requirement be
- What is appropriate punishment.
- New Criminal Laws Must Be Necessary and Precise
- Congress's careless should not endanger you
- Honest mistakes should not result in prison time
- Bureaucrats should not be making new crimes
- Repeal Unjust Laws
This needs to get pushed heavily at all levels of government.
- Inventors shouldn't get SWAT teams banging down their doors and two years in prison for not putting the right label on a shipping package.
- The FBI and Homeland Security shouldn't push conspiracy and terrorism charges against small home laboratories.
- Honest mistakes by investors shouldn't result in 20 year prison charges.
- Americans shouldn't get eight years for breaking foreign laws.
- 11 year old honor students shouldn't get arrested and charged with disorderly conduct for standing up to a bully.