Some Criminal Laws Seen as Stupid–and Expensive


Writing in the Washington Post, Jonathan Blanks mulls “America’s stupidest criminal laws.” “The so-called 'Drug Free School Zone' is one of many laws that create extra penalties for already-illegal acts with no reasonable tie to the public's safety or the defendant's particular circumstances,” he writes. “Congress and many states have legislated harsher, blanket punishments for crimes considered public priorities, regardless of what a judge or jury might deem appropriate. Many times, these laws are passed with the best of intentions…But they handicap judges and juries.”

He goes on to criticize the one-size-fits-all approach of sex offender registries and mandatory minimum sentences aimed at drug cartels and gang leaders. He writes, “These broad statutes create a system that can't distinguish grown men from schoolchildren, serial rapists from amorous teens, or drug mules from kingpins. Such a system is dysfunctional — stupid even. Thankfully, state and federal policymakers are beginning to recognize this. Because stupid policy can get awfully expensive.”

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