A new video from the Cato Institute discusses the issue of overcriminalization
, which is quite interesting:
The video discusses the book Three Felonies a Day
by Harvey Silvergate, which we've mentioned in the past. However, a point that was perhaps more stunning was mentioning how Rep. James Sensenbrenner asked the Congressional Research Service to list out the criminal offenses under federal law, and they refused, saying it would be too much work
The task force staff asked the Congressional Research Service to update the calculation of criminal offenses in the federal code, which was last undertaken in 2008, said task force chairman Representative John Sensenbrenner (R-Wis.)
"CRS's initial response to our request was that they lack the manpower and resources to accomplish this task," Sensenbrenner said Friday. "I think this confirms the point that all of us have been making on this issue and demonstrates the breadth of overcriminalization."
There's clearly something very, very wrong about a criminal code where the governmental agency charged with doing basic research for Congress finds it too big a task to list out all of the crimes listed under federal law. At that point, you no longer have a "rule of law." You have a system of loopholes and gotchas, with enough tricks and traps that anyone can be made into a criminal if the authorities decide that's what they want to do. This isn't to suggest that law enforcement regularly goes after people with trumped up charges -- I don't think they do. However, it does
happen sometimes. But, far more common, and equally worrisome, is how this allows law enforcement to pile on additional charges and potential punishment for people accused of relatively minor crimes.