CRS: Congress Added 439 New Crimes Between 2008 to 2013

PrisonCellThe Congressional Research Service (CRS) has issued a report that informed Congress that it has created 439 new criminal offenses between 2008 and 2013. This staggering figure gives a glimpse into the rapid criminalization of America where there are, by some estimates, around 4,500 federal offenses alone and tens of thousands of more on the state and federal levels. Politicians continue to add crimes, which tend to be popular with voters and do not require immediate budget demands (though they add huge costs not just in enforcement but the costs of citizens themselves in being pulled into the criminal justice system).

I have long been a critic of the criminalization of America where millions of citizens are finding themselves labeled as felons for acts that used to be treated as strictly civil matters. The trend toward criminalization feeds itself as politicians insist that their pet peeve (from feeding pigeons to missing parent-teacher meetings) are no less important than other crimes. The result is that everything is being translated into a criminal offense.

The June report from the CRS to the House Over-Criminalization Task Force shows how Congress continues to yield to impulse buy crimes — reflexively adding new crimes to respond to headlines or constituent outrage. Nothing says commitment more than a crime in politics.

Little thought is given to how a society changes when so many people are given criminal records and the character of interactions with the government shifts toward to the criminal justice system.

38 thoughts on “CRS: Congress Added 439 New Crimes Between 2008 to 2013”

  1. its about politics too, only those rich enough or connected get away with crimes, even high crimes like murder. This is one way to insure that politics remains controlled, people convicted of a crime cant get most jobs let alone get started in politics

  2. The more numerous the laws, the more corrupt the government.
    ~ Tacitus, Annals

  3. Some of these laws are a result of destroying the constitutional “rule of law” after 9/11, interpreting this tragic event as justification to bypass constitutional due process.

    Removing Bill of Rights “speed-bumps” like judicial warrants and probable cause increases “color of law” crimes perpetrated by some police and other officials – which then require MORE laws to counter those unconstiitutional practices like requiring judicial warrants for cell-phone tracking used in blacklisting programs by federal, state and local officials against mainly innocent Americans.

    Ex: using cell numbers, blacklisted Americans driving across the United States would be harrassed by police in each locality for the entire drive and followed to hotels, restaurants, etc – essentially dozens of “Barney Fifes” with varying degrees of maturity and training believing they were tracking so-called “terrorists”. Apparently the goal of this program was for undercover cops to “out” themselves (not passive surveillance) so that blacklistees knew they were being monitored 24/7 – of course 99.9% were probably totally innocent and traumatized for life by police. If the program stopped today the innocent blacklistees will still be traumatized and the program would resume if there was ever a future attack. If the goal is not conviction for a real crime, the innocent blacklistees never have legal standing to sue the corrupt officials in court. [This cell-phone tracking fraud was uncovered by the ACLU with one of the largest FOIA requests in U.S. history].

    We would need fewer laws if Congress merely started following the U.S. Constitution by overturning the Patriot Act, NDAA other constitutionally subversive laws. Our Independent Judiciary could also provide judicial review to void those laws.

  4. Annie,
    “Does your political philosophy reflect the Constitution? Life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness?”

    Not until 2010. From 1980 through 2006, I voted strictly along Republican Party lines. During that time I made my choices based on what was in the best interest of my employment; for 20 years it was a Defense vote and then after I retired, it was the Banking sector. Then in 2007, the mortgage meltdown put me on the defensive when clients were asking questions I couldn’t answer. I’m not proud of my ignorance; it’s simply the facts. That’s when I began studying.

    What I learned early on was that there wasn’t much difference between establishment Republicans or Democrats. They both had platforms that appealed to voter’s special interests but ultimately it was about their own personal interests; money and power. Obama seemed different and I was ready to vote for him but I just couldn’t bring myself to vote for someone whose rhetoric had no measurable experience. I defaulted to McCain because of his position on Defense. But I kept studying.

    By 2010 I had completely shifted my allegiance from party votes to take a stance on the constitution. That lens really exposed both parties for what they were; political elitists that functioned more like a cartel. We had created a co-dependent relationship where they needed our votes and money to build their empire and in return we got the illusion of security (however we defined it). But I kept studying.

    Between 2010 and 2012 I focused all my attention on the Declaration of Independence and the events leading up to it. It was then I realized the constitution was an insufficient barrier to the designs of this Big Government cartel. The Truth about the purpose for government is that they are to be constitutionally-limited and not constitutionally-enabled, to secure the unalienable rights of all citizens. It’s a mindset that puts a red light back on government from the green light they have enjoyed. What has been accomplished with that green light over the last 100 years is a cultural shift from one of self-reliance to one of dependence. Not the kind of dependence that has a real need but a learned dependence that we no longer have to because our government will.

    The combined lens of the constitution and Declaration (unalienable rights) provide all I need to measure the right and wrong of government; mostly the latter. It’s difficult to maintain this position as a result of the “expedient” policy choices of various administrations. As I posted to Eric in another thread, those policies have resulted in “exigent” circumstances. Essentially, by ignoring the chartered purpose for government, decisions have to be made that continue to violate the principles of equality, liberty and property of one constituency to “atone” for the same violations of another. Frederic Bastiat explains this very well in his work, The Law:

    “The Complete Perversion of the Law
    But, unfortunately, law by no means confines itself to its proper functions. And when it has exceeded its proper functions, it has not done so merely in some inconsequential and debatable matters. The law has gone further than this; it has acted in direct opposition to its own purpose. The law has been used to destroy its own objective: It has been applied to annihilating the justice that it was supposed to maintain; to limiting and destroying rights which its real purpose was to respect. The law has placed the collective force at the disposal of the unscrupulous who wish, without risk, to exploit the person, liberty, and property of others. It has converted plunder into a right, in order to protect plunder. And it has converted lawful defense into a crime, in order to punish lawful defense.”

    And I’m still learning.

  5. And John O. When there is an American candidate that does mostly reflect my political philosophy, I am most definitely in the correct country.

  6. John O.
    Does your political philosophy reflect the Consitution? Life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness? Do you think that it’s wrong to vote for someone who runs for high office that doesn’t reflect your philosophy, your world view, taking into consideration that of course we aren’t going to agree with everything, but when one agrees with NOTHING that a particular candidate stands for, one cannot be expected to cast a vote for them. I doubt you would vote for someone you didn’t think represented what you hold dear.

  7. Annie,
    It was and more importantly, should never be expected that we would all agree on everything. That being said, the obvious measure of what you want has to be the constitution. If that’s still not helping then ask yourself if what you want secures the life,liberty, property and pursuit of happiness of everyone, equally. If that’s not acceptable then perhaps you’re stuck in the wrong country.

  8. Oh and let’s not forget the reining in of Wall street, bringing jobs back to our shores, a fair wage, the ceasing the war on Unions, the repeal of Citizens United. The overturning of the Hobby Lobby fiasco.

  9. John Oliver, it’s so much more than gang affiliation. It’s ISSUES, one’s philosophy, one’s world view. How can you expect someone who is diametrically opposed to a philosophy embraced by most rightists, to vote for a rightist President or support rightists who promote a philosophy SO very different from one’s own? I would vote for a Republican if they embraced a woman’s right to an abortion, equal pay for equal work, social safety nets, comprehensive immigration reform, healthcare as a right, marriage equality for gays, the right to serve in the armed forces as an openly gay person, no voter oppression, etc etc etc.

  10. Here we are bemoaning the choices we make and yet, had we encouraged just a smidgen of understanding of human nature, natural rights, social contracts and government, we might not find ourselves in this position.

    We are essentially giving the political version of street gangs the power to abuse anyone; we then display outrage when that abuse hits our interests, and then turn around and give them another two years, simply because we vote blue or red.

    This is the essence of voter ignorance and why I happen to believe “Trust in Government” is only good for government.

  11. I agree with Larry about Congress. They would all be in jail if it was actually enforced. I would not consider such an event to be unfortunate.

    Speaking of which if one were to measure from 2001 to 2011 the number of felonies committed by Members of Congress while in office against the number members of Congress they would be significantly above the population in general.

    I wonder if an Abscam type of snare was targeted against Members of Congress how many would be nabbed today.

  12. The more laws they make, the more opportunities for selective enforcement there are. Politicians make the laws knowing they won’t be prosecuted when they break them, so it’s just another way to oppress minorities and the ever expanding working poor class.

    Clapper committed felony perjury before congress, and not a hint of a prosecution. Banks commit crimes requiring recording breaking multi-billion dollar fines, yet somehow no one did anything wrong that requires a jail sentence.

  13. Johnathan, a slight typo: “politicians insist that they pet peeve” —-> “politicians insist that THEIR pet peeve.”

    On all other counts, great article.

  14. “I don’t know how bad it will have to get to finally get the two sides to join together in protest, I think it will have to be pretty darn bad.” Annie.Yep, Right now we would protesting different things. The protestors are yelling at each other on the Texas highways over immigration policy.

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