Over criminalization is the act of imposing unbalanced penalties with no relation to the gravity of the offense committed or the culpability of the wrong doer.
The study of the punishment of crime and of prison management.
Discriminating the individual from the generic group or species
The restoration of someone to a useful place in society
The plight of a felon is one that doesn’t attract the needed attention required to get legislative change. Penology and Individualization and Rehabilitation and Over- Criminalization are all topics that should render 500,000 signatures on petitions nation wide, but it is not getting the attention needed because just like the crack epidemic, until it hits home in a real fashion to the powers that be family members this plight will only continue to frustrate the individuals that wind up in the teeth of America’s new conundrum.
Although depriving people convicted of felonies of the right to vote has a long history, the modern laws in many states are rooted in racial discrimination. In these states, the laws were enacted after the Civil War and designed to deny the vote to African-Americans, and continue to have that effect today. More than five million American citizens are now denied the right to vote, including 13% of the African-American population, because of felony convictions. Black Americans are imprisoned at 39 times the rate of whites for non-violent drug offenses. In total, more than 60% of people in prison are racial and ethnic minorities, despite being only 28% of the U.S. population.
Every state except Maine and Vermont prevents inmates from voting while in prison for a felony. Once released from prison, voter eligibility depends on the state a person votes in, with laws varying widely. Most states deprive parolees and probationers of the vote, and a few states permanently deny the right to vote to all ex-offenders. Ex-offenders in most states have to go through a wide variety of application processes, and some may never regain the right to vote.
Events in recent months have justifiably caused Americans to ask whether a powerful, activist, and interventionist government and bureaucracy is good to have. Those who have been looking at overcriminalization, however, have known that government and regulatory agencies have been targeting and oppressing Americans for a long time. And it’s getting worse.
In many criminal laws, the “guilty mind” requirement has been removed or weakened. This means people can go to prison regardless of whether they intended to break the law or knew their actions were in violation of the law.
Traditionally, crimes had two components: (l) mens reu (guilty mind), and (2) actus reus (bad act).
Today, many criminal laws and regulations have insufficient or no mens rea (guilty mind) requirement — meaning, a person need not know that his or her conduct is illegal in order to be guilty of the crime.
An example story is the following:
THE CRIME: Rescuing a baby deer
Jeff Counceller, a police officer, and his wife Jennifer spotted an injured baby deer on their neighbor’s porch. Instead of turning a blind eye to the dying fawn, the Councillors took the deer in and nursed it back to health.
An Indiana Conservation Officer spotted the fawn (named Dani) in the Councillors’ yard — and promptly charged the couple with unlawful possession of a deer, a misdemeanor offense. Fortunately for her, the day that “Little Orphan Dani” was to be euthanized by the state, the deer escaped into the wild. Due to public outrage, the government dropped the charges.
“Overcriminalization describes the trend to use the criminal law rather than the civil law to solve every problem, to punish every mistake, and to compel compliance with regulatory objectives. Criminal law should be used only if a person intentionally flouts the law or engages in conduct that is morally blameworthy or dangerous.”
We have problems like this in Wichita, believe it or not. An ordinance passed by the Wichita City Council in 2010 might ensnare anyone visiting city hall, if they happen to have a broad-tip marker in their purse or briefcase:
“Possession of Graffiti Implements Prohibited in Public Places. It is unlawful for any person to have in his/her possession any graffiti implement while in, upon or within one hundred (100) feet of any public facility, park, playground, swimming pool, skate park, recreational facility, or other public building owned or operated by the city, county, state, or federal government, or while in, under or within one hundred (100) feet of an underpass, bridge, abutment, storm drain, spillway or similar types of infrastructure unless otherwise authorized.”
“Graffiti implements” are defined broadly earlier in the ordinance.
If you’re thinking about a career in taxicab driving, be advised that the city has ordinances punishing you if you’re found to have violated these standards: “Fail to maintain their personal appearance by being neat and clean in dress and person” and “Fail to keep clothing in good repair, free of rips, tears and stains.”
When criminal laws are created to “solve” every problem, punish every mistake, and compel the “right” behaviors, this troubling trend is known as overcriminalization. Ultimately, it leads to injustice for honest, hard-working Americans at every level of society. […]
Over the next six months, Members of Congress from both parties will study this issue in depth, hold hearings, and—with the right encouragement—take steps to enact real reform.
The recent scandals involving the IRS and other encroaching agencies of the federal government have shed light on just how much the state interferes in Americans’ everyday lives. The Heritage Foundation offers a few examples:
A young girl was fined $535… for rescuing a wounded woodpecker.
A businessman was jailed for years… for shipping lobsters in plastic bags rather than cardboard boxes.
A Maryland father and building engineer faced a years-long legal ordeal… after being unfairly targeted under the Clean Water Act.
In a new project — USA vs. YOU — the conservative organization documents stories of violated liberties and offers advice on how you can help stop this disturbing trend.
This entry was posted in Uncategorized and tagged ACLU, America, American Civil Liberties Union, compromise practices, criminal laws, federal crimes, frustration, Human Rights Campaign, humanity, Individualization, injustice, insurmountable obstacle, Overcriminalization, Penology, Rehabilitation, Restoration, social issues, social justice, Society, standing power.