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Attorney general’s speech reflects ABA push against overcriminalization

Oct 1, 2013, 07:10 am CDT


This is most definitely a welcome step. I do question the reasoning behind such a move, because it seems to be based on financial reasons. It seems that we are willing to move the bar (i.e., what we define as crime and how we punish it) for no other reason than because the cost of keeping the bar in place is too much. Sure, occasionally lip service is given to the human cost, but never in any detail. So here’s a start.

I question whether there needs to be a bar at all. A free society demands that individuals be allowed to decide for themselves what they put into their own bodies. Should an individual choose to take something that changes the way she perceives the sensory data coming into her brain from the world, then that individual should not be punished for doing so. It’s no one’s business, certainly not the government’s.

We do not punish the executives of companies that sell alcohol, or tobacco, or even automobiles,, even though these products are harmful to humans (and automobiles frequently and directly cause harm and death to others).  Yet we criminalize and punish people and lock them in cages if they engage in procuring, distributing, or using substances currently deemed illegal (e.g., marijuana, meth, cocaine, and heroin) that don’t come close - not by a long shot - to the harm and death caused by those first three products. There is something fundamentally wrong with the fact that the driver of the beer delivery truck gets to sleep in his own bed at night and the person who transports cocaine or marijuana facing spending years of his life in a cell. It’s just wrong.

By wannanah on 2013 10 07, 4:40 pm CDT

I agree, well said.

By debbie on 2013 10 08, 5:16 am CDT

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