An Outdated Legal System Is Punishing Minor Offenses With Decades Of Jail Time
By Claire Bernish
Posted August 29, 2017
For a nation lauding itself as the “land of the free,” the United States certainly maintains a remarkable number of laws criminalizing activities most would consider part of their daily lives. From kids penalized for setting up a lemonade stand to the prohibition of cannabis, seemingly everything Americans do has attached to it a law, license, permit, or regulation, as well as a consequent penalty.
A penalty — as a list of thousands killed by police in recent years during encounters surrounding countless non-violent “crimes” attests — up to and including death.
The U.S. justice system grapples with a number of systemic problems. Among them are unjustified yet unpunished police violence, the opioid epidemic – and other drug-related issues, as well as backlogged courts and a proclivity toward punitive incarceration — the result of which has rightfully garnered the U.S. a reputation internationally as a prison state. When debating reform in these and other areas, over-criminalization as a root cause is rarely considered. But it must be. More…