Tuesday, July 7, 2015

There's already a law for that

The federal code currently lists some 10,000 criminal offenses. A modern, efficient version should have somewhere between 300 and 500.

In the 1960s and '70s, three-quarters of the states modernized their criminal laws based on the Model Penal Code of the American Law Institute, simplifying what had been a chaotic collection of overlapping, inconsistent statutes accumulated over the previous century.

Unfortunately, the same political processes that generated the earlier chaos went to work on the new codes. As politicians felt the need to show their constituents that they were “on the job” — doing something, anything, about the crime problem in the day's headlines — they created new, highly specific offenses.

The result is that the coherent criminal codes of 40 and 50 years ago are now horribly degraded. Today's codes can be seven or eight times longer than the original ones without actually covering any new territory.

More:  http://www.latimes.com/opinion/op-ed/la-oe-0703-robinson-reform-criminal-codes-20150703-story.html


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