The overcriminalization problem: Congressional Research Service can’t even list all federal crimes
Friday, July 19, 2013
Have you ever thought about the number of acts which the federal government has defined as criminal? Even if you have, the number is probably larger than you think.
The federal government’s approach to criminalizing just about everything reminds me of how that same entity contends that just about everything is an indicator of potential terrorist activity. Similarly, public schools have turned typical childhood behavior into a punishable offense.
The problem of overcriminalization has now spread beyond the unknown number of offenses outlined in the federal criminal code into your local school, homeland security agencies and more.
Indeed, the number is so incredibly massive, that the Congressional Research Service told a congressional task force that they simply did not have the manpower and resources required to create a tally of all criminal offenses outlined in the federal criminal code.
According to Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner (R-Wisc.), “Today, there are roughly 4,500 federal crimes on the books. And still many more regulations and rules that, if not abided by, result in criminal penalties, including incarceration.”
The problem with a significant number of these offenses is that one can commit them without ever meaning to do so or with any knowledge of wrongdoing.