Now there's a mouthful. We're going to hear more about it at the federal level: "Right and Left Join to Take On U.S. Over Criminal Justice," today's New York Times headline announces. The article goes on to claim that a rare coalition of conservatives, libertarians and liberals are going to take the issue to the U.S. Supreme Court.
There are, according to the article, more than 4,400 criminal offenses in the federal code, many of them lacking a requirement that prosecutors prove traditional kinds of criminal intent. How did we get that way?
At least since the Nixon administration, Republicans have claimed to be "tough on crime" and Democrats have been afraid to promote being sensible on crime. Now we find we bought into an expensive and ineffective approach. At long last, maybe we can do something about it.
Here in Oriental, we also have a problem with overcriminalization. Our ordinances are full of misdemeanors (criminal acts that must be prosecuted), with fines of up to $500 per occurrence. I am happy to report that, during my time on the Town Board, we removed one misdemeanor: violation of the noise ordinance section regulating outdoor amplified music. I did that.