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Jonathan Tobin: Defending the Right to a Jewish State

Heather Hale: Compliment your kids without giving them big heads

Megan Shauri: 10 ways you are ruining your own happiness

Carolyn Bigda: 8 Best Dividend Stocks for 2015

Kiplinger's Personal Finance editors: 7 Things You Didn't Know About Paying Off Student Loans

Samantha Olson: The Crucial Mistake 55% Of Parents Are Making At Their Baby's Bedtime

Densie Well, Ph.D., R.D. Open your eyes to yellow vegetables

The Kosher Gourmet by Megan Gordon With its colorful cache of purples and oranges and reds, COLLARD GREEN SLAW is a marvelous mood booster --- not to mention just downright delish
April 18, 2014

Rabbi Yonason Goldson: Clarifying one of the greatest philosophical conundrums in theology

Caroline B. Glick: The disappearance of US will

Megan Wallgren: 10 things I've learned from my teenagers

Lizette Borreli: Green Tea Boosts Brain Power, May Help Treat Dementia

John Ericson: Trying hard to be 'positive' but never succeeding? Blame Your Brain

The Kosher Gourmet by Julie Rothman Almondy, flourless torta del re (Italian king's cake), has royal roots, is simple to make, . . . but devour it because it's simply delicious

April 14, 2014

Rabbi Dr Naftali Brawer: Passover frees us from the tyranny of time

Greg Crosby: Passing Over Religion

Eric Schulzke: First degree: How America really recovered from a murder epidemic

Georgia Lee: When love is not enough: Teaching your kids about the realities of adult relationships

Cameron Huddleston: Freebies for Your Lawn and Garden

Gordon Pape: How you can tell if your financial adviser is setting you up for potential ruin

Dana Dovey: Up to 500,000 people die each year from hepatitis C-related liver disease. New Treatment Has Over 90% Success Rate

Justin Caba: Eating Watermelon Can Help Control High Blood Pressure

The Kosher Gourmet by Joshua E. London and Lou Marmon Don't dare pass over these Pesach picks for Manischewitz!

April 11, 2014

Rabbi Hillel Goldberg: Silence is much more than golden

Caroline B. Glick: Forgetting freedom at Passover

Susan Swann: How to value a child for who he is, not just what he does

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Financial Tasks You Should Tackle Right Now

Sandra Block and Lisa Gerstner: How to Profit From Your Passion

Susan Scutti: A Simple Blood Test Might Soon Diagnose Cancer

Chris Weller: Have A Slow Metabolism? Let Science Speed It Up For You

The Kosher Gourmet by Diane Rossen Worthington Whitefish Terrine: A French take on gefilte fish

April 9, 2014

Jonathan Tobin: Why Did Kerry Lie About Israeli Blame?

Samuel G. Freedman: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Jessica Ivins: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Kim Giles: Asking for help is not weakness

Kathy Kristof and Barbara Hoch Marcus: 7 Great Growth Israeli Stocks

Matthew Mientka: How Beans, Peas, And Chickpeas Cleanse Bad Cholesterol and Lowers Risk of Heart Disease

Sabrina Bachai: 5 At-Home Treatments For Headaches

The Kosher Gourmet by Daniel Neman Have yourself a matzo ball: The secrets bubby never told you and recipes she could have never imagined

April 8, 2014

Lori Nawyn: At Your Wit's End and Back: Finding Peace

Susan B. Garland and Rachel L. Sheedy: Strategies Married Couples Can Use to Boost Benefits

David Muhlbaum: Smart Tax Deductions Non-Itemizers Can Claim

Jill Weisenberger, M.S., R.D.N., C.D.E : Before You Lose Your Mental Edge

Dana Dovey: Coffee Drinkers Rejoice! Your Cup Of Joe Can Prevent Death From Liver Disease

Chris Weller: Electric 'Thinking Cap' Puts Your Brain Power Into High Gear

The Kosher Gourmet by Marlene Parrish A gift of hazelnuts keeps giving --- for a variety of nutty recipes: Entree, side, soup, dessert

April 4, 2014

Rabbi David Gutterman: The Word for Nothing Means Everything

Charles Krauthammer: Kerry's folly, Chapter 3

Amy Peterson: A life of love: How to build lasting relationships with your children

John Ericson: Older Women: Save Your Heart, Prevent Stroke Don't Drink Diet

John Ericson: Why 50 million Americans will still have spring allergies after taking meds

Cameron Huddleston: Best and Worst Buys of April 2014

Stacy Rapacon: Great Mutual Funds for Young Investors

Sarah Boesveld: Teacher keeps promise to mail thousands of former students letters written by their past selves

The Kosher Gourmet by Sharon Thompson Anyone can make a salad, you say. But can they make a great salad? (SECRETS, TESTED TECHNIQUES + 4 RECIPES, INCLUDING DRESSINGS)

April 2, 2014

Paul Greenberg: Death and joy in the spring

Dan Barry: Should South Carolina Jews be forced to maintain this chimney built by Germans serving the Nazis?

Mayra Bitsko: Save me! An alien took over my child's personality

Frank Clayton: Get happy: 20 scientifically proven happiness activities

Susan Scutti: It's Genetic! Obesity and the 'Carb Breakdown' Gene

Lecia Bushak: Why Hand Sanitizer May Actually Harm Your Health

Stacy Rapacon: Great Funds You Can Own for $500 or Less

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Ways to Save on Home Decor

The Kosher Gourmet by Steve Petusevsky Exploring ingredients as edible-stuffed containers (TWO RECIPES + TIPS & TECHINQUES)

Jewish World Review March 28, 2007 / 29 Nissan, 5767

Low-rider jeans that are too low? Call 911. Failing to shovel that snow-covered sidewalk? Book 'em. In America today, lawmakers are criminalizing innocent behavior at an alarming rate and undermining our criminal justice system.

By Jonathan Turley

Turley
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http://www.JewishWorldReview.com | Texas Rep. Wayne Smith is tired of hearing about parents missing meetings with their children's teachers. His proposed solution is simple: Prosecute such parents as criminals. In Louisiana, state Sen. Derrick Shepherd is tired of seeing teenagers wearing popular low-rider pants that show their undergarments — so he would like to criminally charge future teenagers who are caught "riding low."


Across the USA, legislators are criminalizing everything from spitting on a school bus to speaking on a cellphone while driving. Criminalizing bad behavior has become the rage among politicians, who view such action as a type of legislative exclamation point demonstrating the seriousness of their cause. As a result, new crimes are proliferating at an alarming rate, and we risk becoming a nation of criminals where carelessness or even rudeness is enough to secure a criminal record.


There was a time when having a criminal record meant something. Indeed, it was the social stigma or shame of such charges that deterred many people from "a life of crime." In both England and the USA, there was once a sharp distinction between criminal and negligent conduct; the difference between the truly wicked and the merely stupid.


Legislators, however, discovered that criminalization was a wonderful way to outdo one's opponents on popular issues. Thus, when deadbeat dads became an issue, legislators rushed to make missing child payments a crime rather than rely on civil judgments. When cellphone drivers became a public nuisance, a new crime was born. Unnecessary horn honking, speaking loudly on a cellphone and driving without a seat belt are only a few of the new crimes. If you care enough about child support, littering, or abandoned pets, you are expected to care enough to make their abuse a crime.

HIGH CRIMES
Consider the budding criminal career of Kay Leibrand. The 61-year-old grandmother lived a deceptively quiet life in Palo Alto, Calif., until the prosecutors outed her as a habitual horticultural offender. It appears that she allowed her hedge bushes to grow more than 2 feet high — a crime in the city. Battling cancer, Leibrand had allowed her shrubbery to grow into a criminal enterprise. (After her arraignment and shortly before her jury trial, she was allowed to cut down her bushes and settle the case.)


Of course, it is better to be a criminal horticulturalist than a serial snacker. In 2000, on her way home from her junior high school in Washington, D.C., 12-year-old Ansche Hedgepeth grabbed some french fries and ate them as she went into the train station. In Washington, it is a crime to "consume food or drink" in a Metrorail facility. An undercover officer arrested her, searched her and confiscated her shoelaces.


Running out of adult targets, many state laws pursue the toddler and preteen criminal element. In Texas, children have been charged for chewing gum or, in one case, simply removing the lid from a fire alarm. Dozens of kids have been charged with everything from terrorism to criminal threats for playing with toy guns or drawing violent doodles in school.


In the federal system, Congress has been in a virtual criminalization frenzy. There are more than 4,000 crimes and roughly 10,000 regulations with criminal penalties in the federal system alone. Just last year, Congress made it a crime to sell horse meat for human consumption — a common practice in Europe where it is considered a delicacy. Congress has also criminalized such things as disruptive conduct by animal activists and using the image of Smokey Bear or Woodsy Owl or the 4-H club insignia without authorization.


The ability to deter negligence with criminal charges has always been questioned by academics. Negligent people are, by definition, acting in a thoughtless, unpremeditated, or careless way. Nevertheless, prosecutors will often stretch laws to make a popular point — even when the perpetrators have suffered greatly and shown complete remorse.


In 2002, Kevin Kelly was charged criminally in Manassas, Va., when his daughter, less than 2 years old, was left in the family van and died of hyperthermia. With his wife in Ireland with another daughter, Kelly watched over their 12 other children. He relied on his teenage daughters to help unload the van and did not realize the mistake until it was too late.


The suggestion that people like Kelly need a criminal conviction to think about the safety of their children is absurd. Kelly was widely viewed as a loving father, who was devastated by the loss. The conviction only magnified the tragedy for this family. (Though the prosecutors sought jail time, Kelly was sentenced to seven years probation, with one day in jail a year to think about his daughter's death.)

THE COST TO ALL OF US
The criminalization of America might come as a boon for politicians, but it comes at considerable cost for citizens and society. For citizens, a criminal record can affect everything from employment to voting to child custody — not to mention ruinous legal costs.


Yet, it now takes only a fleeting mistake to cross the line into criminal conduct. In Virginia, when a child accused Dawn McCann of swearing at a bus stop, she was charged criminally — as have been other people accused of the crime of public profanity.


Our insatiable desire to turn everything into a crime is creating a Gulag America with 714 incarcerated persons per 100,000 — the highest rate in the world. Millions of people are charged each year with new criminal acts that can stretch from first-degree murder to failing to shovel their sidewalks.


We can find better ways to deal with runaway bushes, castaway pets, or even potty-mouth problems. Congress and the states should create independent commissions to review their laws in order to decriminalize negligent conduct, limiting criminal charges to true crimes and true criminals. In the end, a crime means nothing if anyone can be a criminal.

Every weekday JewishWorldReview.com publishes what many in in the media and Washington consider "must-reading". Sign up for the daily JWR update. It's free. Just click here.

JWR contributor Jonathan Turley is a law professor at George Washington University. Click here to visit his website. Comment by clicking here.

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