Press Releases

Conyers Announces Establishment of Bipartisan Over-Criminalization Task Force

Washington, DC, May 9, 2013

This week, the U.S. House Judiciary Committee passed unanimously, by voice vote, a resolution establishing an, “Over-Criminalization Task Force.”  Ranking Member John Conyers, Jr. (D-Mich.) will serve as an ex officio member of the task force.  Following the establishment of this task force, Rep. Conyers issued this statement:

“For the last several decades, Congress has decided that the answer to most every problem is to create a new federal crime with stiffer penalties.  As a result, Congress has passed more than 4,000 federal crimes, and federal agencies have promulgated an estimated additional 300,000 regulations that also impose criminal penalties - many without any mens rea requirement.  It is now time to put the brakes on the unchecked passage of duplicative and unnecessary legislation.

“Accordingly, I applaud the creation of the Over-Criminalization Task Force.  We simply have too many laws and regulations that impose criminal penalties.  For example, Congress has established approximately 56 new crimes per year over the past several decades, many of which  have grown in severity with significant prison exposure, including mandatory minimum sentences.  As a result, the United States has the highest incarceration rate in the world with more than 200,000 individuals in federal prison and 1.8 million in state and local prisons.  This is simply unacceptable.

“It is my hope that the work of the Over-Criminalization Task Force will better inform Congress about the overarching problems of over-criminalization, and provide us with an effective roadmap for principled reform of the Federal criminal code.  We cannot ignore the fact that the serious deterioration of the quality of federal criminal law ultimately endangers the civil liberties of all Americans.”