Tag: overcriminalization

A Criminal Nation

There is a disturbing trend in America wrt our bureaucratic overloads trying to solve every problem and correct every mistake by enacting new and more onerous laws. I wish I could blame this all on Obama, it is more convenient and tidy that way, but this has been going on for about 30 years now. Yes, he has quickened the pace and gone nuts in the process, but he was passed the baton and did not start the race on his own. Social engineering has literally gone amok, attempts to manipulated societal behavior so that it conforms more with a standard, their standard, and in direct conflict with freedoms and liberties synonymous with our American principles. And the greatest overreach in this area has occurred on the federal level:

Federal criminal law has exploded in size and scopeā€”and deteriorated in quality. Honest, hard-working Americans doing their best to be respectable, law-abiding citizens can no longer be assured that they are safe from federal prosecutors. Federal criminal law used to focus on inherently wrongful conduct: treason, murder, counterfeiting, and the like. Today, an unimaginably broad range of socially and economically beneficial conduct is criminalized. More and more Americans who are otherwise law-abiding are being trapped and unjustly punished. Congress must halt its overcriminalization rampage and begin to eliminate vague, overbroad criminal offenses that punish good people who violate one of the tens of thousands of federal criminal offenses without criminal intent.

This last sentence is particularly salient. The presence of criminal intent,mens rea, has always been an important element of criminal law, the state of mind or the intend of the criminal. Granted, ignorance of the law is no excuse, but lately this has proven hollow in that more and more law abiding people are getting hauled in and jailed (or fined)for stuff they had no idea was illegal.

A typical example of this is going fishing. Gone are the days of grabbing your pole and throwing in your line, Now, you not only require a license, but a specific license for the specific fish you are fishing for, you can only use a specific type of bait and can only catch a specific size/gender fish, with a specific type/gauge line. Deviate one iota from what THEY say you can do, catch the wrong fish, keep the wrong fish, or (God forbid) catch an endangered species fish, and your ass just landed in a world of hurt. Go crabbing in the SF Bay and have some endangered crustacean crawl into your trap, it’s Alcatraz for you, buddy.

But the main purpose of this post is to cast ridicule and scorn at those municipalities that take this over reach one step further, to loonyville:

A Queens man is very upset after trying to put his trash out for collection and ending up with a ticket.

He, and others, are getting snared in an enforcement of a law that few people even know exists.

The scrooge award goes to the New York City Sanitation Department for the $100 tickets.

Raymond Janson says he received the $100 fine for putting his garbage cans at the curb 30 minutes early.

“I can’t say how incensed I am over this,” Janson says. “Not only at the excessive amount, but the nature of the summons.”

Hundred bucks? chump change, how about this?

A 91-year-old grandmother is having to fight a ticket for not having a lid on her trash can. The only problem is that Blanche Pierce doesn’t even have a trash can.

This old hag should have been fined for NOT having a trash can, what kind of an anarchist is she?

Probably the thing that ticks me off the most is that I know how these progessiveleftest states operate, one (like NY) comes up with a new means to screw it’s citizens and others (like California) follow suit. We already have idiotic regulations like alternate burn days, no plastic bags, no child toys in happy meals, and some crazy pet laws, oh, and no recycling scofflaws allowed.

We know that the country is on the wrong economic road, but this Draconian trend in criminalizing any even trivial breach of social conduct is turning us into a nation I’m not particularly proud of.