Life imitating art
July 22nd, 2009 by Ken Hagler

Jailing the Innocent.

Apg_jail_090722_wmain Today’s Washington Times reminds us that big government takes more than just our money.  It sometimes takes away innocent people’s freedom.

“George Norris spent 17 months in federal prison because he used the wrong paperwork for imported orchids that are perfectly legal to grow and own. David McNab suffered eight years in the federal pen for packing imported lobster tails in plastic rather than the required cardboard cartons. Krister Evertson spent more than a year in federal prison for illegally ‘disposing’ of materials intended for an environmentally friendly fuel cell even though the materials were packaged carefully and stored completely out of harm’s way.”

“Mr. Evertson and Mr. Norris’ wife, Kathy, will be among the witnesses today at a hearing on overcriminalization and overfederalization being held by a subcommittee of the House Judiciary Committee. They serve as stark reminders that the risks of big government are not merely a theoretical concern.”  

“Often, niggling regulations are enforced by bureaucrats literally bearing arms against citizens who have no idea they have violated criminal statutes and then prosecuted by an unconstrained Justice Department overeager for pelts on the wall.”

“(F)ederal criminal law is ‘an incomprehensible, random and incoherent, duplicative, ambiguous, incomplete and organizationally nonsensical.'”

“Mrs. Norris writes, ‘Now I know that every single person is at risk because almost anything can be charged as a crime.’ Her 66-year-old orchid-growing husband was ‘put in handcuffs and leg shackles and (thrown) in a holding cell with one person suspected of murder.’”

The Washington Times also says a 12-year-old:

“….was handcuffed, searched and thrown in a paddy wagon for eating a single french fry in a Metrorail station, and Kay Leibrand, a 61-year-old cancer patient sent to jail because her hedges were too high. The list goes on. It is a list of victims of government run amok.“

[John Stossel’s Take]

This is something that Ayn Rand predicted in Atlas Shrugged:

There’s no way to rule innocent men. The only power any government has is the power to crack down on criminals. Well, when there aren’t enough criminals, one makes them. One declares so many things to be a crime that it becomes impossible for men to live without breaking laws. Who wants a nation of law-abiding citizens? What’s there in that for anyone? But just pass the kind of laws that can neither be observed nor enforced nor objectively interpreted — and you create a nation of law-breakers — and then you cash in on guilt.

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