Two seemingly unlikely allies, the conservative Heritage Foundation and the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers, today issued a report on federal “overcriminalization,” charging that “Congress is criminalizing everyday conduct at a reckless pace.” The groups contended that nearly two-thirds of laws enacted by Congress in 2005 and 2006 involving non-violent offenses included inadequate definitions of the conduct they criminalize.
Such actions put “the innocent at risk of criminal punishment,” the groups contend. Their study also found “consistently poor legislative drafting and broad delegation of Congress's authority to make criminal law to unaccountable regulators. The groups called on Congress to “produce a standard public report assessing the purported justification, costs, and benefits of all new criminalization. This report must include an account of the perceived gaps in existing law, the wrongful conduct that is currently unpunished or under-punished, and any specific cases or concerns motivating the legislation.”