Some time ago, I wrote about Harvey Silverglate’s book Three Felonies A Day: How the Feds Target the Innocent. The book’s premise is that there is virtually no adult in this country who has not violated a federal criminal law because of the incredible number of laws and the vagueness and breadth of them. Moreover, almost every Federal regulation carries criminal consequences either directly or through piggy-backing with a statute.This should be of particular concern to health providers because of the heavy regulation of healthcare.
There are about 4,500 criminal statutes, said Edwin Meese, attorney general under President Ronald Reagan and now with the conservative Heritage Foundation. “This is in addition to over 300,000 other regulations that don’t appear in the federal code but nevertheless carry essentially criminal penalties including prison,” he said. “So the vast array of traps for the unwary that lurks out there in federal criminal law is more extensive than most people realize.” The Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts figures some 80,000 defendants are sentenced in federal court each year.
Too bad Ed Meese did not recognize, when in office, the traditional premises of criminal law as does Nathan Burney.:
Crime is defined by society, not by bureaucrats. Crime is something that is so bad that society deems it worthy of punishment — of the government forcibly taking away your liberty, your property, your reputation. Crime is serious, and should only be created by the legislature. People who have no business defining new crimes are now doing it all over the place. That’s problem one.
Problem two is that these people have no clue what they’re doing. They don’t know what crime is, why it’s punished, or how it is defined by our jurisprudence. What they do know is strict liability — simply breaking the rules, regardless of knowledge or intent, is enough for sanctions.
Is it too much to ask the Republicans in Congress to take note of this admission by the AG who served Ronald Reagan?