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Overcriminalization Gets a Hearing On Capitol Hill

| December 20, 2011

Last week, overcriminalization experts testified before the Subcommittee on Crime, Terrorism, and Homeland Security of the U.S. House Judiciary Committee.

The subject of the hearing was H.R. 1823, the “Criminal Code Modernization and Simplification Act of 2011.” This bill, sponsored by Congressman Jim Sensenbrenner, a Republican from Wisconsin, has two core elements. First, it reduces the size of the criminal code, cutting out unused and overbroad offenses which infringe on those more properly policed by the states. Second, it ensures sufficiently well-defined culpability (mens rea) is required to be proven as a part of a federal case.

Sensenbrenner has proposed this bill for four congressional sessions in a row now, and the bill finally received a hearing on December 13th.

At that hearing, Right on Crime signatory Ed Meese testified, along Dick Thornburgh, Tim Lynch of the CATO Institute, and Stephen Saltzburg. According to the Wall Street Journal, a bipartisan contingent of lawmakers criticized the overgrown federal criminal code.