Saturday, June 24, 2017

Overcriminalization Capital of the World


oftwominds |  The over-criminalization of America has undermined justice, the rule of law and legal egalitarianism.

While the corporate media devotes itself to sports, entertainment, dining out and the latest political kerfuffle, America has become the Over-Criminalization Capital of the World. 

The proliferation of laws and administrative regulations, federal, state and local, that carry criminal penalties has swollen into the tens of thousands. The number of incarcerated Americans exceeds 2.3 million, with the majority being non-violent offenders--often for War on Drugs offenses. 
  
Holly Harris has written an important summary of this profoundly destabilizing trend: The Prisoner Dilemma: Ending America's Incarceration Epidemic (Foreign Affairs, registration required).

The over-criminalization of America is a relatively recent trend. As Harris notes: 

It wasn’t always like this. In 1972, for every 100,000 U.S. residents, 161 were incarcerated. By 2015, that rate had more than quadrupled, with nearly 670 out of every 100,000 Americans behind bars.
 
The over-criminalization of America is rooted in federal laws and regulations, and state and local governments have followed suite.