• America, the Law-crazed

      In my syndicated column this week, I discuss how politicians' eagerness to legislate creates an "injustice system":

      When there is a big crime, legislators quickly demand that felons be given longer jail sentences and "mandatory minimums" for repeat offenses. This wins votes but kills judicial discretion and crushes unlucky people.

      In Iowa, a man with an old felony conviction found a bullet, put it on his dresser and forgot about it. A police officer, looking for something else, saw the bullet. Felons may not possess any ammunition, and this "crime" made the man a repeat offender. He's now serving a 15-year mandatory sentence for possession of ammunition. Really. The long sentence was appealed, but the U.S. Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals upheld it, saying its hands were tied by the mandatory minimum set in law.

      Some laws are hypocritical:

      Then there's the so-called war on drugs -- a war on people, actually. Lots of politicians admit that they used drugs in their youth -- even presidents. Barack Obama wrote in his memoir, "Dreams From My Father": "Pot had helped ... ; maybe a little blow (cocaine) when you could afford it."

      And, yet in office, these same politicians preside over an injustice system that jails a million Americans for doing what they did. Don't they see the hypocrisy? Give me a break.

      ...I want my government to arrest real criminals -- ones who violate our rights -- and to lock them up so we'll be protected. But our politicians go way beyond that. Governments at all levels have long been in the business of forbidding conduct that violates no one's rights and piling on complex laws to govern conduct that might harm someone. And they keep passing more.

      Every week, feds propose thousands of pages of new rules. States and cities pass even more. Often, the politicians haven't even read them.

      Read the rest of my column here.

      War On Drugs
      mandatory minimum