The Criminalization of (Almost) Everything
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America’s criminal codes are now so voluminous that they bewilder not only the average citizen but also the average lawyer. Our courthouses are so clogged that there is no longer adequate time for trials. And many of our prisons are now operating well beyond their design capacity. Two new books raise the question of whether the American criminal justice system has become dysfunctional. Harvey Silverglate’s new book, Three Felonies a Day, argues that the typical American professional is likely unaware that he or she violates federal law each day because of the breadth and dangerously broad scope of the Code of Federal Regulations. As a result, scores of people—doctors, lawyers, journalists, businesspeople—are vulnerable to sudden, arbitrary prosecution. Cato’s Tim Lynch, editor of In the Name of Justice, maintains that the runaway growth of the criminal law has been accompanied by the dilution of constitutional rights and safeguards. Please join us for a discussion of these disturbing trends and what might be done about them.