The Cato Institute on Overcriminalization Reply

The Cato Institute, another Republican think-tank that is Koch-funded, likewise makes an indirect case for “civil unrest.”

By Tim Lynch

Cato Institute

Policymakers should

  • Override the old maxim that “ignorance of the law is no excuse” (given the breadth of the criminal codes now on the books, that doctrine no longer makes sense);
  • strengthen the rule of lenity for criminal cases by enacting a statute that explicitly provides for the strict construction of all criminal laws; and,
  • prohibit administrative agencies from creating new crimes.

Over the past 10 years, there has been much discussion in academic and policy circles concerning “mass incarceration” in the United States. Many have observed that there is something incongruous about America, the land of the free, finding itself with one of the highest incarceration rates in the world. The United States has about 2 million inmates and another 7 million persons under the “supervision” of the criminal justice system. Something is amiss, but the root of the problem is not sentencing policy; rather, it is the burgeoning criminal codes at the “front end” of the criminal system.

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