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The conspiracy of Over-Criminalization

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posted on Dec, 16 2009 @ 06:58 PM
As a criminal justice/forensics major, I have a huge interest (passion) in criminal justice and law. I do believe our criminal justice system needs a complete overhaul: laws themselves and punishment.

I was reading an article that talked about over-criminalization and how every American can potentially be an [innocent] criminal unbeknownst to them.

There are now more than 4,000 federal crimes, spread out through some 27,000 pages of the U.S. Code.

It would be impossible for everyone, even for lawyers, to know each of these crimes. The chance of someone innocently breaking one of these 4,000 + crimes is pretty high. Not only would it be easy to break one of these laws (many completely ridiculous), but the average person would not even understand the law code as it is written. Interestingly enough, our constitution mentions only three federal crimes (treason, piracy, and counterfeiting).

Now, I’m all for laws. I believe without laws, there would be chaos. Laws create order and protect people. But, I believe there are way too many frivolously laws that just set people up for failure, waste tax payer money (prosecuting/punishing) and waste the time and resources of our legal and law enforcement professionals. Im not talking about crimes such as murder, rape or the like. This is about things that most people would never think of, potentially making themselves a criminal.

For example:

You can serve federal time for interstate transport of water hyacinths, trafficking in unlicensed dentures, or misappropriating the likeness of Woodsy Owl and his associated slogan, "Give a hoot, don't pollute." ("What are you in for, kid?" your new cellmate growls.) Bills currently before Congress would send Americans to federal prison for eating horsemeat or selling goods falsely labeled as "Native American." **article here**

Here is a website that specifically goes over many of these ridiculous laws:
“Overcriminalization” describes the trend in America – and particularly in Congress – to use the criminal law to “solve” every problem, punish every mistake (instead of making proper use of civil penalties), and coerce Americans into conforming their behavior to satisfy social engineering objectives. Criminal law is supposed to be used to redress only that conduct which society thinks deserving of the greatest punishment and moral sanction.

Bill Search

Legislation regarding criminalizing various things:

The Legislative Update provides details, status, and basic commentary on legislation pending in Congress that could perpetuate the dangerous trend of criminalizing more and more conduct that is socially and economically beneficial and of punishing Americans for acts they commit without criminal intent (mens rea). Legislative Update does not cover legislation on “street crime” – i.e., crimes involving violence, drugs, or firearms. Otherwise, Legislative Update attempts to include all bills in Congress that add or modify federal criminal offenses or penalties.

I am not sure what the solution to this is. There may not be one. Because lobbyists and politicians who author and pass these laws are in it for the money and its nearly impossible to fight anything which is motivated by money.

posted on Dec, 16 2009 @ 07:40 PM

A facist society has a high interest in law and punishment. Society is constantly barraged with law and order to control and keep the masses in fear.

All we as reasonable thinking people can do is individually calm people and educate so that we can try to curtail the cry for stricter law (less liberty), more punishment, more control over our lives in the name of safety from shadows under their bed.

But, that will never happen. The news scares people, (nevermind perspective...a person murdering 400 miles away might as well be next door to you and that means your neighborhood is under siege...time to let the law take more rights from you).

Commentators turn news into pretend epidemics, and the voters, so freaked out about the fake epidemic, vote for more laws and demand more laws from their statesmen.

posted on Dec, 16 2009 @ 07:49 PM
Well,some of this is why the jails are overcrowded. They give people some pretty hefty sentences for theft by check and such....Then, they will turn around and give a rapist or even murderer a ten year sentence. Doesn't correlate to me.

Why sweat petty affairs when there are major crimes that are treated rather leniently?

posted on Dec, 16 2009 @ 07:54 PM
In general, I agree with your assessment of the situation.

However, if more of those who are paid to enforce the Law used a little common sense judgement about which Laws to enforce like it used to be instead of blindly using any supposed infraction as an excuse to swarm and terrorize a Citizen, perhaps things would change.

When Laws are so silly that you just have to ignore them, or they are clearly designed to benefit a few at the expense of many, those Laws are not respected. If some Laws are not respected, it is easier for more people to just not respect any of them. This grows and spreads through the population. With every police beating, with every corrupt official, with every hypocritical politician, more respect for the system of Law is lost.

There are only two ways a law can be enforced, by Respect, through thoughtful understanding that the law is just and best for the common good, or by Force, through the threat of financial ruin, imprisonment, or death.

I believe that today's law enforcement apparatus no longer has Respect for the Law by the Citizen in their arsenal. All they have left is force.

It's just going to get worse...

posted on Dec, 16 2009 @ 09:50 PM
I think you're right but a lot of them are just sub-sects of the same law and just different aspects of a same thing.

Things like copyright infringement seem ridiculous unless you ARE the artist. People profit off your hard work. But I agree some sentences and punishments are too high.

Have a whole bunch of obscure little laws and people will become afraid to do anything...

reply to post by Ambient Sound

Oh joy another one of the haters... ja Im sure all police have given up on respect and are now just beating people when they wish. Thats why my whole cities covered in bruises and afraid to go out... yeah right

posted on Dec, 16 2009 @ 10:55 PM
I believe a big part of the problem is, that the USA has privatized many prisons. The prison-industrial-complex behaves exactly like the military-industrial-complex. Both use their lobbying power to expand beyond reasonable means. Both have a detrimental effects on society. The military-industrial-complex has brought countless wars and a ludicrous high amount of money is spent on the military. The prison-industrial-complex brought the USA the highest ratio of prisoners per capita in the world.

[edit on 16-12-2009 by Drunkenshrew]

posted on Dec, 17 2009 @ 01:35 AM
The Law
Frederic Bastiat

What is Law?

What, then, is law? It is the collective organization of the individual right to lawful defense.

Each of us has a natural right — from God — to defend his person, his liberty, and his property. These are the three basic requirements of life, and the preservation of any one of them is completely dependent upon the preservation of the other two. For what are our faculties but the extension of our individuality? And what is property but an extension of our faculties? If every person has the right to defend even by force — his person, his liberty, and his property, then it follows that a group of men have the right to organize and support a common force to protect these rights constantly. Thus the principle of collective right — its reason for existing, its lawfulness — is based on individual right. And the common force that protects this collective right cannot logically have any other purpose or any other mission than that for which it acts as a substitute. Thus, since an individual cannot lawfully use force against the person, liberty, or property of another individual, then the common force — for the same reason — cannot lawfully be used to destroy the person, liberty, or property of individuals or groups.

Such a perversion of force would be, in both cases, contrary to our premise. Force has been given to us to defend our own individual rights. Who will dare to say that force has been given to us to destroy the equal rights of our brothers? Since no individual acting separately can lawfully use force to destroy the rights of others, does it not logically follow that the same principle also applies to the common force that is nothing more than the organized combination of the individual forces?

If this is true, then nothing can be more evident than this: The law is the organization of the natural right of lawful defense. It is the substitution of a common force for individual forces. And this common force is to do only what the individual forces have a natural and lawful right to do: to protect persons, liberties, and properties; to maintain the right of each, and to cause justice to reign over us all.

A Just and Enduring Government

If a nation were founded on this basis, it seems to me that order would prevail among the people, in thought as well as in deed. It seems to me that such a nation would have the most simple, easy to accept, economical, limited, nonoppressive, just, and enduring government imaginable — whatever its political form might be.

Under such an administration, everyone would understand that he possessed all the privileges as well as all the responsibilities of his existence. No one would have any argument with government, provided that his person was respected, his labor was free, and the fruits of his labor were protected against all unjust attack. When successful, we would not have to thank the state for our success. And, conversely, when unsuccessful, we would no more think of blaming the state for our misfortune than would the farmers blame the state because of hail or frost. The state would be felt only by the invaluable blessings of safety provided by this concept of government.

It can be further stated that, thanks to the non-intervention of the state in private affairs, our wants and their satisfactions would develop themselves in a logical manner. We would not see poor families seeking literary instruction before they have bread. We would not see cities populated at the expense of rural districts, nor rural districts at the expense of cities. We would not see the great displacements of capital, labor, and population that are caused by legislative decisions.

The sources of our existence are made uncertain and precarious by these state-created displacements. And, furthermore, these acts burden the government with increased responsibilities.

The Complete Perversion of the Law

But, unfortunately, law by no means confines itself to its proper functions. And when it has exceeded its proper functions, it has not done so merely in some inconsequential and debatable matters. The law has gone further than this; it has acted in direct opposition to its own purpose. The law has been used to destroy its own objective: It has been applied to annihilating the justice that it was supposed to maintain; to limiting and destroying rights which its real purpose was to respect. The law has placed the collective force at the disposal of the unscrupulous who wish, without risk, to exploit the person, liberty, and property of others. It has converted plunder into a right, in order to protect plunder. And it has converted lawful defense into a crime, in order to punish lawful defense.

How has this perversion of the law been accomplished? And what have been the results?

The law has been perverted by the influence of two entirely different causes: stupid greed and false philanthropy. Let us speak of the first.

A Fatal Tendency of Mankind

elf-preservation and self-development are common aspirations among all people. And if everyone enjoyed the unrestricted use of his faculties and the free disposition of the fruits of his labor, social progress would be ceaseless, uninterrupted, and unfailing.

But there is also another tendency that is common among people. When they can, they wish to live and prosper at the expense of others. This is no rash accusation. Nor does it come from a gloomy and uncharitable spirit. The annals of history bear witness to the truth of it: the incessant wars, mass migrations, religious persecutions, universal slavery, dishonesty in commerce, and monopolies. This fatal desire has its origin in the very nature of man — in that primitive, universal, and insuppressible instinct that impels him to satisfy his desires with the least possible pain.

Continued in next post...

posted on Dec, 17 2009 @ 01:36 AM
The Law
Frederic Bastiat


Property and Plunder

Man can live and satisfy his wants only by ceaseless labor; by the ceaseless application of his faculties to natural resources. This process is the origin of property.

But it is also true that a man may live and satisfy his wants by seizing and consuming the products of the labor of others. This process is the origin of plunder.

Now since man is naturally inclined to avoid pain — and since labor is pain in itself — it follows that men will resort to plunder whenever plunder is easier than work. History shows this quite clearly. And under these conditions, neither religion nor morality can stop it.

When, then, does plunder stop? It stops when it becomes more painful and more dangerous than labor.

It is evident, then, that the proper purpose of law is to use the power of its collective force to stop this fatal tendency to plunder instead of to work. All the measures of the law should protect property and punish plunder.

But, generally, the law is made by one man or one class of men. And since law cannot operate without the sanction and support of a dominating force, this force must be entrusted to those who make the laws.

This fact, combined with the fatal tendency that exists in the heart of man to satisfy his wants with the least possible effort, explains the almost universal perversion of the law. Thus it is easy to understand how law, instead of checking injustice, becomes the invincible weapon of injustice. It is easy to understand why the law is used by the legislator to destroy in varying degrees among the rest of the people, their personal independence by slavery, their liberty by oppression, and their property by plunder. This is done for the benefit of the person who makes the law, and in proportion to the power that he holds.

Victims of Lawful Plunder

Men naturally rebel against the injustice of which they are victims. Thus, when plunder is organized by law for the profit of those who make the law, all the plundered classes try somehow to enter — by peaceful or revolutionary means — into the making of laws. According to their degree of enlightenment, these plundered classes may propose one of two entirely different purposes when they attempt to attain political power: Either they may wish to stop lawful plunder, or they may wish to share in it.

Woe to the nation when this latter purpose prevails among the mass victims of lawful plunder when they, in turn, seize the power to make laws! Until that happens, the few practice lawful plunder upon the many, a common practice where the right to participate in the making of law is limited to a few persons. But then, participation in the making of law becomes universal. And then, men seek to balance their conflicting interests by universal plunder. Instead of rooting out the injustices found in society, they make these injustices general. As soon as the plundered classes gain political power, they establish a system of reprisals against other classes. They do not abolish legal plunder. (This objective would demand more enlightenment than they possess.) Instead, they emulate their evil predecessors by participating in this legal plunder, even though it is against their own interests.

It is as if it were necessary, before a reign of justice appears, for everyone to suffer a cruel retribution — some for their evilness, and some for their lack of understanding.

The Results of Legal Plunder

It is impossible to introduce into society a greater change and a greater evil than this: the conversion of the law into an instrument of plunder.

What are the consequences of such a perversion? It would require volumes to describe them all. Thus we must content ourselves with pointing out the most striking.

In the first place, it erases from everyone's conscience the distinction between justice and injustice.

No society can exist unless the laws are respected to a certain degree. The safest way to make laws respected is to make them respectable. When law and morality contradict each other, the citizen has the cruel alternative of either losing his moral sense or losing his respect for the law. These two evils are of equal consequence, and it would be difficult for a person to choose between them.

The nature of law is to maintain justice. This is so much the case that, in the minds of the people, law and justice are one and the same thing. There is in all of us a strong disposition to believe that anything lawful is also legitimate. This belief is so widespread that many persons have erroneously held that things are "just" because law makes them so. Thus, in order to make plunder appear just and sacred to many consciences, it is only necessary for the law to decree and sanction it. Slavery, restrictions, and monopoly find defenders not only among those who profit from them but also among those who suffer from them.

This was but an excerpt from Frederic Bastiat's simple, eloquent and seminal work. It is largely ignored today by the so called experts of law, but it is an important work and I know of no other author who has managed to explain law and its purpose better than Bastiat.

posted on Dec, 17 2009 @ 02:12 AM
Prohibition laws and morality laws have no place in a civilized society. Laws are required to protect people and property, that's all.

Drunk driving shouldn't even be a crime. You can be drunk and pick up a gun. But if you don't hurt someone with it, is it a crime? If I drive drunk but do not hurt anyone or destroy anyone's property, should it be a crime?

Before anyone jumps down my throat be clear I do not drive drunk. I'm just saying I think the penalty is too harsh for drunk driving for just getting caught above .08, which is hardly anything anyway.

posted on Dec, 18 2009 @ 11:17 AM
reply to post by TheComte

Well, yeah, that is my point. The punishment doesn't always fit the crime. I mean, look at the law in regards to theft by check, i.e "hot check." A Class A conviction will get you a year in jail or 4000 dollar fine or both; a Class B conviction will get you 180 days in jail a 2000 dollar fine or both. That is in my hometown anyway. I mean, come on!! Really?

posted on Aug, 31 2010 @ 09:31 AM
I think one of the biggest problems is the prisons and its effects on society. I also believe that in most situations the punishments don't fit the crimes and law enforcement officals are just hired thugs in most cases, they have overstepped their boundries and are out of control. For example say a local department decides they are going on a drug and dui sting hardcore and non stop to relentlessley bust the pot smokers and hard lined addicted and or dealer of narcotics. Do you think they go to the county jail house and ask the warden if he has room for 50 more inmates? I'd like to say they do in all cases but unfortunatley they don't. So the cops go and arrrest 50 people for dui drugs etc and throw them into an already over crowded prison, the judge is like guiltyguiltyguilty because he don't really care about the jail it isn't his concern. So now the jailhouse has to make a choice they petition the same judge to release prisoners early and place them on parole. Now the parole officers get another case load of 50 individuals on top of their already heavy ticket of parolees and probationary individuals. Since these guys or girls were originally arrested for what ever are now back in society they were never corrected for their crimes they just rotted in jail for awhile to come out into a society that is on an economic decline and filled with very callous people. Do you think that they are going to get a job right away? I say they won't. Do you think society is going to label them? I do. I think that the mounting pressure of socioeconomics and the local job markets combined with the outcast feeling of being in jail can be enough to cause these indivduals to be very dissatisfied with society especially if all they did was got busted for smoking a joint or something very petty and now also have a **** the man! attitude. The majority of these individuals will end back up in jail after getting caught probably drinking or doing drugs by their PO or just simply they have no where to go and want back in so they dont freeze and can eat. If communities were better informed and equipped with a mature sense of humanity and a degree of intelligence in regards to ex prisoners I believe that may be a step in the right direction. Obviously our prison system and corrections are not working and I am not saying that their is much that can be done but if you try the same thing a million times and you fail a million times why keep that system rolling? The lack of communication between street level bureaucrats is nill, the police make crimes out of nothing if they can for revenue, the judge just reviews case facts and punishes, then the legislaters request more money from the fed and just bitch and complain about everything and the little guy in jail continues to get cycled through the revolving door of crime.

posted on Aug, 31 2010 @ 10:03 AM
reply to post by greeneyedleo

Nice thread. I hope it generates much discussion.

My activist days came to an end while volunteering for the ACLU....the Prison Workers Union. After six years of seeing the abject misery of families with loved ones being prosecuted, convicted and even sentenced to death by D.A's, judges and frightened jurors for the flimsiest interpretation of law I got out.

The incarceration of millions of people is nothing less than bottom-line economics for corporate America and our not so illustrious justice system.

Just think of the number of family members and friends that subsidize the demand for cheap labor.

This Global Research link explains

posted on Aug, 31 2010 @ 10:06 AM
Wow, this got bumped

All the responses are great. I enter into a new Criminal Law class next week. So good timing
If anything comes up in class that I deem ATS worthy, I shall post here

posted on Aug, 31 2010 @ 10:11 AM
What did we think we'd get when we elected all these lawyers (insert any of the well deserved lawyer cliches here) to write the laws (insert any of the well deserved lawyer cliches here)?

When the cops changed their mission from "serve and protect" to "make $ for their precinct" everything, predictably, went haywire.

posted on Aug, 31 2010 @ 10:15 AM
reply to post by greeneyedleo

Im a CJ major as well what is your focus if you dont mind me asking? I'm almost graduated but I'm not entirely sure what and where I want to go to grad school yet.

posted on Aug, 31 2010 @ 10:18 AM

Originally posted by Brotherman
reply to post by greeneyedleo

Im a CJ major as well what is your focus if you dont mind me asking? I'm almost graduated but I'm not entirely sure what and where I want to go to grad school yet.

Actually my focus now is Criminal Forensics. However Im adding on to that Homeland Security US intelligence.

Now lets see how many Foes I obtain

Maybe look into foresnics. Its a much needed position. Case work all over the country is so backed up its ridiculous. Can get he job anywhere (fed and local level).

[edit on August 31st 2010 by greeneyedleo]

posted on Aug, 31 2010 @ 10:26 AM
reply to post by greeneyedleo

LOL thats actually really funny because my focus for awhile was also intel on AMU online and CJ at HACC and PSU. I'm probably an ignoramous because after the Marines I thought I was going to come home and do service to my country and all that but I began to open my eyes at how far back it seems we have moved in terms of anything internal, IDK if it is intentional or by accident but we really did a good job dividing the people and instituting a state of high tension, christians vs. islam, radical political movements vs liberals, media fear mongering for profit, and we somehow cannot figure out why we keep on bickering with each other and the list keeps on going. The countries tolerance for what we are and each other is slowly diminishing and I decided I dont want to be a cop or anything like that anymore, I just want to finish my degree and find a niche where I can actually truly help all people and this country.

posted on Aug, 31 2010 @ 10:26 AM
Edited for double post

[edit on 31-8-2010 by Brotherman]

posted on Aug, 31 2010 @ 10:28 AM
reply to post by Brotherman

Sometimes change can only happen from within. Being on the outside (IE, civilians) does not seem to do much. Cant even get the right people voted into office.

Might as well be proactive and get inside and start trying to change things

posted on Aug, 31 2010 @ 10:34 AM
reply to post by greeneyedleo

I would have to agree with that to a certain extent but that is only because the people on the outside are very important as well. There needs to be someone that can also fill the void between the inside and the out simply to articulate to the masses what is TRULEY and transparently going on when changes are imminent. Those people are supposed to be your state reps but in most cases they can't do all the things they need to do to accomodate everyone especially with mounting pressure from the fed blackmail money I mean "highway money" but those are just speculative I suppose if you had a dictatorship involved
just kidding. Definatley change does need to happen from the inside and you need to be in the inside with not necassarily like minded people but a group of people that have vision to make things better and let the rest to personal expression and thought outside of the mission so to speak.

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