Three Felonies A Day: How the Feds Target the Innocent

Author: Harvey Silverglate
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Three Felonies A Day: How the Feds Target the Innocent


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by archivefile   2018-11-10

by ShadowLiberal   2018-11-10

If you really want to get technical, the average American commits 3 felonies a day due to some ridiculously vague laws (like CFAA, which for example is so broadly written it allows federal prosecutors to criminally prosecute you merely for violating the TOS on a website). But the thing is those ridiculously vague and broad laws that everyone violates on a daily basis are almost never enforced, except as a way to prosecutors extra leverage in plea bargains.

But I highly doubt that this was what the person quoted was referring to. They sounded like they were talking about serious crimes, not stuff that shouldn't even be illegal.

by ylan64   2018-11-10

Well, laws are made to be broken, so that the authorities always have something on you when they want ( .

The Germans, loving rules, also love enforcing them I guess, even the most insignificant ones.

Of course, all I'm saying here comes mostly from stereotype and is tongue in cheek and shouldn't be taken seriously.

by pipechap   2018-11-10

He might be partisan but he's not entirely wrong:

by bertcox   2018-11-10

It is in their eyes.

by Igggg   2018-11-10

"Just lock'em up away and throw away the key" was the whole point of the Drug War. It didn't go well, as you probably know.

Some crimes are malum per se, and need to be punished in all cases; murder is one example. Others are malum prohibitium, and then your argument is "let's punish people simply because there's a law on the books". If you were to strictly enforce all exiting laws, you'll end up arresting majority of the U.S. population .

You may well know that heroin is quite addictive, and simply throwing people in prison isn't exactly the best solution to the societal issues that heroin is causing. Otherwise, why even have a needle exchange? Just arrest all drug users and give him the twenty-year prison sentences they deserve according to the laws on the books.

by psion01   2018-11-10

Do you have any idea how many local, state, and federal laws and regulations there are that can wind up putting you behind bars?!

You've probably committed more crimes than you know and you're just one ambitious prosecutor away from fighting fires with the bad boys!

by Lizzardspawn   2018-11-10

That people commit felonies all the time is a given. Three felonies a day

With the US code everybody is guilty of something. What the constitution tried to prevent was - I want this guy in jail, now dig at him and find something he is guilty of, so I can put him there.

My personal opinion is that the US is there - once the fed target you - they will find something.

by Nf1nk   2018-11-10

Three Felonies A Day .

We would need a hell of a lot of criminal justice reform before we even think about that.

by furluge   2018-11-10

Ok, so maybe you've never taken a look at economics or business but regulations have costs. If I, as an extermination service, want to offer my services to you, and I have to employe workers who are trained to recognize every single one of the 41,415 animals on the endangered species list on sight, and also insure myself/retain lawyers against any accidents my workers can incur, I'm going to have to pay for that. A worker of that caliber is going to be expensive, and the insurance/lawyers is going to be expensive if we're talking about the kind of penalties some people here are screaming for. That's going to be prohibitively expensive. So, if we try to follow your proposed scenario, which is very strict enforcement of endangered species laws, an exterminator working under what you're proposing has the following options.

1) Pass those costs on to the consumer by raising their rates.
2) Leave the area and do business someplace else with less regulation.
3) Go out of business.

Keep in mind that in most cases business will choose option #2 in a situation as onerous as you're proposing if they possibly can. Otherwise it's option #3. The kind of costs you'd need to meet to adhere to endangered species laws perfectly mean it's much more likely exterminators would simply go out of business. (And don't forget of course, you need to kill pests to maintain crops. Expect your food prices to skyrocket in your scenario as well.) Which of course means you'd just end up having untrained amateurs doing pest control with whatever they can lay their hands on instead. The reason exterminators aren't feeling the effects of this is because the enforcement of the laws is very lax, like many laws are. Generally for the reasons I mentioned. It's not in any politician's best interest to cause pest control prices and by extension food prices to skyrocket. They'd be dragged into the street and torn limb from limb.

Speaking of lax law enforcement, for example the average American commits around three felonies a day . If all those laws were strictly enforced you'd have the entire population inside prison cells. Laws like this generally exist to make people feel good or make it seem like the government is doing something, and they provide a useful piece of leverage or cudgel to beat someone or some company with when it's convenient. If the man in this article had never gone to the police I guarantee you he'd probably never have been fined or put in jail in the first place.