Thursday, January 22, 2009

Too Many Federal Prosecutions

Heritage Foundation challenges federal prosecutions
01/22/09 - DC Examiner Editorial

Former Attorney General Ed Meese is the Ronald Reagan Distinguished Fellow at the Heritage Foundation, and its Director of the Center for Legal and Judicial Studies. He is quoted:

[edited] The Heritage Foundation's goal is to restore the criminal law to what it has traditionally been used for, to protect the public safety and to deal with real crime. We want to avoid more of what has occurred, the multiplicity of laws and regulations that carry criminal penalties. These ensnare ordinary citizens for things that nobody would anticipate are crimes.

Many special interest groups have urged Congress to attach criminal penalties to regulatory legislation to "show its importance." Many of the worst examples involve obscure environmental regulations or business rules. The criminal process is abused when civil or administrative actions would suffice to protect public health and safety.

In one case, seafood importers spent eight years in jail because their lobsters were improperly packed in plastic rather than cardboard. “Zero tolerance” policies land children in jail for making paper guns in school, or having small knives on camppus in the trunk of their cars after moving and opening boxes. A cancer patient aged 61 was jailed because her hedges were too high. This is law enforcement run amuck.

Washington's Biggest Crime Problem
April 2004 - by William Anderson and Candice E. Jackson. Just a small part of an interesting article.

[edited] The federal government's ever-expanding criminal code is an affront to justice and the Constitution.

In 1996 Edward Hanousek Jr., a road master for a railroad company running between Alaska and Canada, was convicted of negligently discharging a harmful quantity of oil into the Skagway River, a U.S. waterway, in violation of the Clean Water Act.

An independent contractor had accidentally ruptured a pipeline while attempting to clear rocks off the tracks. Hanousek was off duty and at home that day, nowhere near the accident site, and he had no knowledge of the pipeline rupture until after the fact.

The government nevertheless prosecuted Hanousek, a federal jury convicted him, and he received a sentence of six months in prison, six months in a halfway house, six months of post-release supervision, and a $5,000 fine.

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