The Exploding Number of Federal Crimes
Heritage Foundation has a new report on the ever increasing number of federal crimes enacted by Congress.
This study reviews the crimes newly enacted by Congress in order to: (1) update the number of federal crimes; (2) measure whether Congress continues to pass federal criminal laws at the same pace found by the ABA report; and (3) determine whether the new crimes contain a mens rea requirement, a key protection of the common law that protects those who did not intend to commit wrongful acts from unwarranted prosecution and conviction.
Bottom line: An average of 56.5 new crimes are enacted yearly.
The growth of federal crimes continues unabated. The increase of 452 over the eight-year period between 2000 and 2007 averages 56.5 crimes per year—roughly the same rate at which Congress created new crimes in the 1980s and 1990s. So for the past twenty-five years, a period over which the growth of the federal criminal law has come under increasing scrutiny, Congress has been creating over 500 new crimes per decade. That pace is not steady from year to year, however; the data indicate that Congress creates more criminal offenses in election years.
[Hat tip to Ed Still of VoteLaw.]
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