Share
Explore BrainMass

"Crisis of Overcriminalization"?

Overcriminalization refers to the idea that laws regulating public morality may result in a substantial diversion of police, prosecutorial, and judicial time, personnel and resources. While legislative views on morality may, legitimately, be included in crimes such as murder, rape and other violent crimes, they may inappropriately extend to other areas of our lives, such as our sexual preference (sodomy) and use of intoxicants (i.e. Prohibition). How far into the private lives of citizens may government-sanctioned views of morality properly intrude? Do you believe that a "crisis of overcriminalization" actually exists in the United States right now?

Solution Preview

Interesting topic! One approach to look at various arguments which you can consider for your final argument. This is the approach this response takes. I also attached two supporting article, which this response refers to by page number for easy referencing.

RESPONSE:

1. Overcriminalization refers to the idea that laws regulating public morality may result in a substantial diversion of police, prosecutorial, and judicial time, personnel and resources. While legislative views on morality may, legitimately, be included in crimes such as murder, rape and other violent crimes, they may inappropriately extend to other areas of our lives, such as our sexual preference (sodomy) and use of intoxicants (i.e. Prohibition). How far into the private lives of citizens may government-sanctioned views of morality properly intrude? Do you believe that a "crisis of overcriminalization" actually exists in the United States right now?

The debate about overcriminalization is ongoing, so it depends. It talks to the larger topic of the role of the government when it comes to morality. What about the separation of state and church? However, as Richards argumentatively points out that the United States Constitution is rooted in Calvinism and religion. See attached chapter, somewhat dated (1982), but still presents an excellent background of the various arguments. See the article: Overcriminalization.pdf for a definition (p. 12) and overview of the "crisis of overcriminalization" in the United States.

Arguments

Many argue that there is a crisis of overcriminalization in the United States (see the attached article which discusses the original Constitution of the United States being rooted in religion; this is where prohibition and sex crimes became against the law, p. 3). Today, many arguments of people in United States in opposition of overcriminalization (e.g., autonomy and human rights to make own decision, victimless crimes take up scare resources; etc.) are based on the felt injustices in our criminal justice system at every stage of its operation, and proponents question the assumptions underlying this conception of criminal justice. One theory for such an analysis is utilitarianism, which radically questions the whole perspective on human rights implicit in American constitutionalism; another is an antiutilitarian natural rights theory (universal human right to make own decisions, e.g consensual sex, drugs, death, suicide, etc.), which takes seriously ideas of human rights implicit in American constitutional practice but affords a critical call for reinterpreting their implications for criminal ...

Solution Summary

This solution discusses how far into the private lives of citizens the "government-sanctioned views of morality" should be allowed to intrude. It also debates if a "crisis of overcriminalization" actually exists in the United States right now. Supplemented with extra resources on the overcriminalization debate.

$2.19