The Congressional Task Force on Overcriminalization

It’s great that there is a federal task force on overcriminalization. Let’s hope some good reforms will come out of this and trickle down to the states. Mens rea meaning criminal intent has gotten lost in our punitive system that continues to lock up folks we are mad at, instead of those of whom we are afraid. Expensive, ineffective, and unjust.

NACDL’S “THE CRIMINAL DOCKET”
Right On Crime, Dec. 16, 2013

“The Congressional Task Force on Overcriminalization held its fourth hearing in November. Composed of five Democrats and five Republicans, the Task Force, which awaits reauthorization after its November 30 expiration, was first created on May 7, 2013, by a unanimous vote of the House Committee on the Judiciary. The Task Force was charged to “conduct hearings and investigations and issue a report on overcriminalization in the federal code, as well as possible solutions.” In this podcast, we hear from Shana-Tara Regon, NACDL’s Director of White Collar Crime Policy, about this groundbreaking task force, the work it has done, and the critically important work that lies ahead. Click here to listen to the podcast.”

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People Who Do Not Knowingly Commit CrimesExperts provide some ideas to roll-back government statutes
Jarrett Skorup, CAPCON Michigan Capital Confidential, Dec. 11, 2013

“LANSING — There are thousands of federal laws and many more coming from the states. So many, that at the national level the government doesn’t even try to add them up anymore…

What can be done to turn that tide while keeping society safe was the topic of an “Issues and Ideas” event (VIDEO at: http://www.mackinac.org/19333)  put on by the Mackinac Center for Public Policy on Tuesday. The panel featured Mike Reitz, executive vice president of the Mackinac Center, Paul Larkin Jr., senior legal research fellow at the Heritage Foundation, and Marc Levin, who directs the “Right On Crime” initiative at the Texas Public Policy Foundation.”

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Criminal Minds: The Importance of Defining Intent in Criminal Statutes
By Michael J. Reitz, published on Dec. 10, 2013

Download the full study here

Executive Summary
A concept rooted in centuries of American and English legal tradition is that the commission of a crime requires both a wrongful act and a culpable mental state. The wrongful act (actus reus in Latin) is the physical act committed by a person. The mental state (mens rea) is the person’s guilty state of mind when committing the act. A crime requires a marriage of both factors. As one U.S. Supreme Court justice wrote, “Crime, as a compound concept, generally constituted only from concurrence of an evil-meaning mind with an evil-doing hand[.]” The purpose of this approach was to penalize only those who, when faced with the choice of obeying the law or committing a crime, voluntarily chose to commit a crime.

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