Thursday, July 28, 2011

You are probably a criminal and don't know it.

Are you a criminal?

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.
If that isn't thought through, then don't pass that new law. Personally, I classify things into two areas. Stupidity and evil. In general, people shouldn't be branded felons or given long prison sentences for stupidity. Stupidity usually isn't a grave threat to society. Evil is. Evil constitutes of murder (including abortion), rape, robbery, most thievery (larceny, fraud, embezzlement), kidnapping, child molestation, abuse of power, assault with intent to do great bodily harm (Michigan's term), etc. The other legalities are stupidity. Drugs. Drug offenders need treatment, not prison. DUI. DUI offenders are only a threat on the road. Stupidity, not evil. Get them off the road and have them contribute to society instead of being in prison. I'm not threatened by a guy with a class III firearm without a permit. I'm not threatened by the guy smoking a joint if he's not driving. I'm not threatened by an illegal neighborhood poker game. Hell, I can legally play Keno at the bar after several glasses of whiskey. Things have gotten ridiculous.

There's more.

  • 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
That should be obvious. Everybody should be able to understand criminal offenses. However, if I read a bunch of them to a crowd, I'll be getting a bunch of dumbfounded looks and people asking me, "What the hell is that?" The careless part references throwing people in prison on technicalities. Vagueness should favor the defense, not prosecution. The common law rule of lenity and void for vagueness rules do not get argued enough in criminal cases. That's often due to pleadings as most cases do not go to trial. Honest mistakes refer to criminal intent. Unfortunately, there's a growing trend in strict liability crimes where mental state does not matter. Most drug laws are strict liability. Bureaucrats refer to administrative regulations such as EPA. Repealing unjust laws is clear. We can start with the TSA and prison terms for Obamacare.

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.
This is unacceptable. This needs to change ASAP, or we are going to have to become outlaws in more ways than one.


Communications guru said...

You are really so full of shit with the false GOP talking point. The penalty under the health care reform bill for failure to purchase insurance is a tax, not jail time. In fact, Factcheck says “criminal penalties will not apply to those who refuse to get coverage and refuse to pay the penalty tax.”

Blaming the corrections budget on law enforcement people is just as stupid and false as your health care lie. The budget is result of right-wingers like you being “tough on crime.” A recent report by the U.S. Department of Justice found Michigan’s incarceration rates were the 2nd highest in the 12-state Midwest region, and our rate is the 11th highest in the nation. We need to reform sentencing guidelines, but too many conservative politicians obstructed it like they do everything but stuff that hurts working people and unions because supporting sentencing reform makes them “soft on crime.”

Angie said...

You're right of course, and I was especially to see Joe Hune's latest newsletter eagerly endorse a Caylee Anthony law, which would essentially make it a crime not to report in to the government.

Your liberal troll is right about one thing though - the budget is the result of the "law and order" mentality of the Republicans. As much as the liberals insist that the government should mother us from cradle to grave, the GOP dictates that we should be kept 100% safe, especially from ourselves, while we're in their womb.

In my book it's simple - if what you did didn't actually hurt anybody else, then it shouldn't be punished by jail time.

(And the troll is splitting Obamacare hairs - there is absolutely jail time attached to a refusal to pay taxes and the penalty for refusing to carry insurance is a tax. It's a two step thought process though, so I can see where we lose him.)

Communications guru said...

First, I’m not a troll; I call out dan here on his lies all the time. Second, I am 100 percent correct: the Affordable Health Care Act carries no jail time, and criminal penalties will not apply to those who refuse to get coverage and refuse to pay the penalty tax. He knows that, yet he continues to float that lie. Apparently, you want to cling to that lie, too.

Wow; now there’s an important law: The Caylee Anthony law. No, liberals do no “insist that the government should mother us from cradle to grave. We simply support a real safety net and that people should be paid a fair wage for their work.