More and more each year, respected, hard-working citizens in our country are becoming “criminals,” mostly due to our over-zealous government. No where in the U.S. is this more true than in Michigan, where there are more than 3,100 crimes with the majority of those felony and misdemeanor offenses falling outside of the penal code. What is truly unfortunate is that today, an individual can commit a crime and not even be aware of it – often in the act of trying to do something nice or helpful for someone else.
America’s government has gained too much control over our lives. In fact, expansive government has seemingly fought to take away our right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. Today, millions of dollars are spent by U.S. states imprisoning individuals who are in no way a threat to society, even for crimes that prosecutors never for an instant thought were illegal.
One example of innocent individuals in Michigan who were put into legal jeopardy unknowingly in recent years includes a business owner who expanded his parking lot in an effort to accommodate his growing business. The land was later deemed a “wetland” by state regulators. Should the man be labeled a criminal? Of course not. This is one example of how ridiculously out of control criminal law is becoming.
Over criminalization is defined as the “brisk and untethered growth in both the size and scope of criminal law.” While much of the problem stems from our expansive and increasingly controlling federal government, over criminalization is also a problem at the state level. On example of this is in New York, where a 12-year-old girl was arrested and handcuffed for doodling “I love my friends Abby and Faith. Lex was here 2/1/10” on her school desk. Really? Is this necessary in our country?
Those reading this are probably not aware of it, but the state of Michigan has a higher incarceration rate than Cuba, Iran, and Russia. This is certainly not something to be proud of, but is in part due to the fact that like federal government and other states, our state law has gone too far in making activities that are not inherently wrong crimes. Michigan has created or “manufactured” about 45 new criminal offenses every year in the past six years, nearly half of those new “crimes” considered felonies. Why are state and federal lawmakers trying to make the citizens of our country into criminals?
Not only does over criminalization put hard working, honest individuals and businesses at risk of incarceration or other penalties, it also has a huge impact on our economy. Honest people make honest mistakes; no human is perfect. Who pays for the process of prosecuting these “criminals” who pose no danger to society, and who never intended to commit a crime? The taxpayers, every one of us. When it comes to what should be considered a crime and what shouldn’t be, it seems our government has far overreached its boundaries.