Overcriminalization

The overcriminalization in the charges against Michael O’Donnell

The overcriminalization in the charges against Michael O’Donnell

The indictment against Sedgwick County Commissioner Michael O'Donnell smells of overcriminalization. Former Wichita City Council Member, former Kansas Senator, and present Sedgwick County Commissioner Michael O'Donnell has been charged with a series of serious crimes -- serious, at least, in the potential penalties he faces. First, I know Michael O'Donnell, and although I have been critical of some of his votes in the Kansas Senate and many while a member of the Sedgwick County Commission, I still consider him a friend, and I hope he considers me the same. I have worked on some of his campaigns, sometimes as a…
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WichitaLiberty.TV: Keen Umbehr on criminal justice reform

WichitaLiberty.TV: Keen Umbehr on criminal justice reform

In this episode of WichitaLiberty.TV: Keen Umbehr is a criminal defense attorney. He talks about reforms needed in the criminal justice system. View below, or click here to view on YouTube. Episode 143, broadcast March 19, 2017. Show notes Keen Umbehr on Facebook Midwest Innocence Project Kansas civil asset forfeiture Criminal Justice and Policing Reform -- Charles Koch Institute
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In Wichita, your house numbers may become illegal

In Wichita, your house numbers may become illegal

Thousands of Wichita homeowners may soon be lawbreakers if the city council follows its staff's recommendation. An update is at the end of this article. This week the Wichita City Council may make your house number illegal, even though those numbers may -- literally -- be set in stone. This will be the case if the council takes the action recommended by its Department of Public Works and Utilities. Current city code requires address numbers three inches high. The proposed ordinance requires numbers four inches tall. The penalty for noncompliance is $500 per day, with each day being "a separate…
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Wichita to impose burdensome occupational requirements

Wichita to impose burdensome occupational requirements

The proposed massage therapist regulations in Wichita are likely to be ineffective, but will limit economic opportunity and harm consumers. The Wichita City Council is concerned about human trafficking for the purposes of prostitution. That's good. But the response the council is considering -- which is licensing massage therapists -- is not needed. We have strict laws already on the books that make human trafficking a serious criminal offense, which it is. The proposed Wichita regulations will simply make it more difficult for honest people to become massage therapists. Criminals will operate illegally. They are criminals, after all. Or, they…
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Massage business regulations likely to be ineffective, but will be onerous

Massage business regulations likely to be ineffective, but will be onerous

The Wichita City Council is likely to create a new regulatory regime for massage businesses in response to a problem that is already addressed by strict laws. During a presentation to the Wichita City Council on February 23, 2016, police officials reported on a number of investigations and arrests. In 2015, there were 22 arrests for human trafficking and other violations. The presentation did not include what comprised "other violations," nor did it contain any information about the disposition of these cases. If the city is concerned about prostitution and child trafficking, the latter being a serious crime, we already…
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If you can’t get a cop in Wichita

It could be that the officers are busy protecting the city from the illegal playing of poker. This is an area ripe for reform. Why is playing poker for money on east Kellogg illegal? At one time the state thought it had to protect us from gambling because it was sinful. That argument has faded as states across the nation have sanctioned casinos. Kansas is unique -- at least at the time of the start of non-Indian casino gambling in the state -- in that the casinos are actually owned by the state. So if the state of Kansas owns…
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WichitaLiberty.TV: Sales tax exemptions, criminal justice reform, and charity

WichitaLiberty.TV: Sales tax exemptions, criminal justice reform, and charity

In this episode of WichitaLiberty.TV: Does the elimination of sales tax exemptions hold the solution to Kansas budget problems? We have a problem with overcriminalization and the criminal justice system. Then, is there a difference between government and charity? View below, or click here to watch in high definition at YouTube. Episode 96, broadcast September 27, 2015.
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Criminal justice reform: Why it matters

Criminal justice reform: Why it matters

Mark Holden, Senior Vice President and General Counsel at Koch Industries, Inc., speaks about criminal justice reform initiatives Koch is encouraging in and why they're important from moral, constitutional and fiscal perspectives. Holden spoke at a luncheon of the Wichita Pachyderm Club on September 18, 2015. View below, or click here to view in high definition at YouTube. Videography by Paul Soutar. More information about this topic is at The Overcriminalization of America.
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Making Wichita an inclusive and attractive community

Making Wichita an inclusive and attractive community

There are things both easy and difficult Wichita could do to make the city inclusive and welcoming of all, especially the young and diverse. In its questionnaire for candidates for Wichita mayor and city council, the Wichita Metro Chamber of Commerce asked this: "How will you work to make Wichita an inclusive community where all will feel welcome, particularly the young and diverse talent we need to help attract more young and diverse talent?" There are a few very easy things Wichita could do to appeal to millennials -- I think that is one of the groups the Chamber addresses…
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The Overcriminalization of America

The Overcriminalization of America How to reduce poverty and improve race relations by rethinking our justice system By Charles G. Koch and Mark V. Holden As Americans, we like to believe the rule of law in our country is respected and fairly applied, and that only those who commit crimes of fraud or violence are punished and imprisoned. But the reality is often different. It is surprisingly easy for otherwise law-abiding citizens to run afoul of the overwhelming number of federal and state criminal laws. This proliferation is sometimes referred to as “overcriminalization,” which affects us all but most profoundly…
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Hate crimes should not be enhanced in Kansas

Hate crimes should not be enhanced in Kansas

A bill in Kansas proposes to toughen penalties for hate crimes, thereby judging people on their thoughts and beliefs rather on their actions. When a person commits a crime against another, the crime itself ought to be enough to earn the criminal a trip to prison. What the criminal was thinking, or even saying, at the moment ought not to be relevant in determining the severity of punishment or whether a crime was committed. That's because in America we have the right to free speech, even hateful speech. We do not have, of course, the right to harm others, but…
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WichitaLiberty.TV December 29, 2013

In this episode of WichitaLiberty.TV: Are Kansas school leaders being honest with schoolchildren and parents regarding Kansas school test scores? Then: Walter Williams on greed. Finally: Do we have too many laws? A look at the problem of overcriminalization. Episode 24, broadcast December 29, 2013. View below, or click here to view at YouTube.
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WichitaLiberty Podcast, episode 2

In this episode of WichitaLiberty Podcasts: David Boaz, Executive Vice President of the Cato Institute, visits the WichitaLiberty.TV studios and explains the ideas behind libertarianism and its approach to government and society. New figures from the Kansas State Department of Education show that spending on public schools in Kansas is rising, and at a rate higher than the year before. Is Wichita economic development being managed? The problem of overcriminalization. City of Wichita proves Einstein’s definition of insanity. Episode 2, October 25, 2013. [powerpress] Shownotes WichitaLiberty.TV October 27, 2013. David Boaz, Executive Vice President of the Cato Institute, visits the…
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USA versus You: The problem of overcriminalization

Events in recent months have justifiably caused Americans to ask whether a powerful, activist, and interventionist government and bureaucracy is good to have. Those who have been looking at overcriminalization, however, have known that government and regulatory agencies have been targeting and oppressing Americans for a long time. And it's getting worse. The new website USAvsYOU.com holds useful information for Americans to know about how law has changed in recent years, compared to how it operated for centuries before. The booklet available for reading is titled USA vs. You: The flood of criminal laws threatening your liberty. As an example,…
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USA vs. You: The problem of overcriminalization

Events in recent months have justifiably caused Americans to ask whether a powerful, activist, and interventionist government and bureaucracy is good to have. Those who have been looking at overcriminalization, however, have known that government and regulatory agencies have been targeting and oppressing Americans for a long time. And it's getting worse. The new website USAvsYOU.com holds useful information for Americans to know about how law has changed in recent years, compared to how it operated for centuries before. The booklet available for reading is titled USA vs. You: The flood of criminal laws threatening your liberty. As an example,…
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Republicans recognize overcriminalization

A section of the platform agreed to at the Republican National Convention expresses concern over the rise of overcriminalization: "The resources of the federal government’s law enforcement and judicial systems have been strained by two unfortunate expansions: the over-criminalization of behavior and the over-federalization of offenses. The number of criminal offenses in the U.S. Code increased from 3,000 in the early 1980s to over 4,450 by 2008. Federal criminal law should focus on acts by federal employees or acts committed on federal property -- and leave the rest to the States. Then Congress should withdraw from federal departments and agencies…
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Proposed Wichita sign ordinance problematic

The Wichita City Council will consider a revision to its sign ordinances aimed at reducing the proliferation of temporary signs placed in right-of-ways, mostly at intersections. The city calls this "sign blight." Here's what the proposed ordinance states, in part: "The existence of a temporary sign in the right of way or on public property directing attention to a person is prima facie evidence that such person has caused the placement of such sign in the right of way or on public property." The Wikipedia entry for prima facie explains "It is used in modern legal English to signify that…
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Kansas and Wichita quick takes: Monday December 19, 2011

Boeing tanker and Wichita. News reports from this morning's press conference held by U.S. Representative Mike Pompeo of Wichita indicate that Boeing will not use Wichita as the finishing plant for work on the new air refueling tanker project. It was thought that this work would require 7,500 jobs in Wichita. Political and union leaders speak of holding Boeing accountable to what they believe was a promise Boeing made to Wichita, but I don't know how they can do that. ... Pompeo's press release states: "... the work will be done in Washington state. Until very recently, it had been…
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Kansas and Wichita quick takes: Tuesday September 6, 2011

Live music example of overcriminilization, regulation in Wichita. The Wichita Eagle reports on examples of problems establishments have faced for not complying with Wichita's requirement for a live music license, which costs $400 per year. In the story No entertainment license in Wichita? Live music is illegal, it is reported that city officials are working with art gallery and coffeehouse owners to revise the ordinance. I agree with Adam Hartke, who wonders why there should be any fees. Like the recently passed regulations on haunted houses, these regulations appear to be regulating something that's not a problem. Tax reform in…
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Guitar makers and players targeted by onerous laws

Today the Wall Street Journal reports again on startling examples of overcriminalization, with federal authorities conducting raids on businesses based on aggressive enforcement of broad and vague laws. This time it's the famous Gibson Guitar company, which is charged with importing wood that may have been illegally harvested. But individual guitar owners are targeted, too, if they travel across international borders with a guitar that might possibly have been made from banned wood. If the traveler doesn't have the proper documentation, the guitar might be seized. As a result, a law professor says he doesn't leave the country with a…
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