Is the American criminal justice system out of control?

JusticeConservatives and liberals have finally found an issue where they agree: The over criminalization of the American justice system.

Both sides say the system is out of control, going after too many people for too may trivial matters.

It’s a blatant example of a government out of control and too consumed with chasing people for minor crimes.

Even the law-and-order fanatics from the Reagan administration say the abuses must be curbed.

The issue has created strange bedfellows who normally line up against each other and both sides say the fight is worth the coalition it has created.

Reports Adam Litak of The New York Times:

In the next several months, the Supreme Court will decide at least a half-dozen cases about the rights of people accused of crimes involving drugs, sex and corruption. Civil liberties groups and associations of defense lawyers have lined up on the side of the accused.

But so have conservative, libertarian and business groups. Their briefs and public statements are signs of an emerging consensus on the right that the criminal justice system is an aspect of big government that must be contained.

The development represents a sharp break with tough-on-crime policies associated with the Republican Party since the Nixon administration.

“It’s a remarkable phenomenon,” said Norman L. Reimer, executive director of the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers. “The left and the right have bent to the point where they are now in agreement on many issues. In the area of criminal justice, the whole idea of less government, less intrusion, less regulation has taken hold.”

Edwin Meese III, who was known as a fervent supporter of law and order as attorney general in the Reagan administration, now spends much of his time criticizing what he calls the astounding number and vagueness of federal criminal laws.

Mr. Meese once referred to the American Civil Liberties Union as part of the “criminals’ lobby.” These days, he said, “in terms of working with the A.C.L.U., if they want to join us, we’re happy to have them.”

Dick Thornburgh, who succeeded Mr. Meese as attorney general under President Ronald Reagan and stayed on under President George Bush, echoed that sentiment in Congressional testimony in July.

“The problem of over criminalization is truly one of those issues upon which a wide variety of constituencies can agree,” Mr. Thornburgh said. “Witness the broad and strong support from such varied groups as the Heritage Foundation, the Washington Legal Foundation, the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers, the A.B.A., the Cato Institute, the Federalist Society and the A.C.L.U.”


  1. hologram5

    My state of Arizona is loaded with representatives who are elected by the religious right and have no consideration for anyone other than white Christian Straight men

    And the funny thing about that is that these are the ones that are constantly getting involved in the sexcapades in and out of office.  These are truly the biggest threat to “marriage” I have ever seen.  Sure, Bill Clinton did something in office, big deal.  Look at the huge list of conservatives to be arrested for things like this, it outweighs the list of Dems by tenfold.



    To Boldly Go… Anywhere there is sanity…

  2. Sandra Price

    griff, a threat of liberty comes from all sides of all levels of government.  My immediate worry is for individual liberties at the state and county levels.  However we have a lobbyist keeping a close eye on potential legislation from the Congress, pushed by the White House and even the Supreme Court.  From a layman’s point of view, much could be fixed if the Congress would kindly separate the church and state. 

    I do not view freedoms issued from any political agenda that wants to ban freedoms from our gay community, our breeding women who are often at the mercy of a failed birth control.  We are seeing little teenage girls getting pregnant by reason of their ignorance.  The history of abortions is much older than most people realize.  Ancient Egypt and the Roman Empire all had abortions available and our own American Indians had herbs available to stop the breeding of children during droughts and the loss of available food.  There is no legislation that can stop homosexuals from expressing their desires.  There is no legislation that can stop any woman for any reason for wanting not to give birth to an unwanted fetus. 

    Back in 1999 I read into the Social Conservative agenda which included bans on too many activities enjoyed by Americans.  It was at the time when Governor Bush of Texas had his eye on the White House.  He knew he had no chance unless he got the vote of the Christians.  He ran on a federal grant for the churches and the ministers went to town to register and get votes for him.  The separation of church  and state lost credibility.

    I’m way past the breeding years and I am not a homosexual but damnit these are Americans who are losing their individual choices NOW!  I never rely on a liberal agenda to solve a damn thing.  They all have a problem interpreting our Bill of Rights. 

    My state of Arizona is loaded with representatives who are elected by the religious right and have no consideration for anyone other than white Christian Straight men.  I am on the Board of Directors of our Death with Dignity group and our membership is increasing quickly since the Schaivo case and that is another freedom I will not see removed by any religious group.  We are not asking for Federal approval but we are going state to state. 

    We all have our chosen agenda points and mine are always with the individual.  Conservatives care not for the man on the street and Liberals love to claim they csre but act to the contrary. 

    Griff, I have been involved in these issues for over 50 years and worked for many wonderful Republicans and Democrats in our governments (local and federal) My agenda is out of favor because it limits the authority over the people from a bunch of lying, thieving and corrupt Congressmen. 

    I do not apogize for my agenda and I probably gave up partisan membership before you saw the truth in our government.  It may offend you to even think that we could be a team to work on our joint desires….but I could be wrong.






  3. RichardKanePA

    Sadly our real system of justice is the plea bargain not trial by jury.

    A regular court room if you are up close is as chaotic as traffic court.