Task force to question criminalization of minor offenses

A new House task force may push a rethinking of drug laws and mass incarceration

By Natasha Lennard

Published May 8, 2013 3:00PM (EDT)


A new bipartisan task force created this week by the House Judiciary Committee will look at the possible "over-criminalization" of minor offenses in the U.S. federal code, which is understood to contribute to America's unmatched rates of incarceration.

The task force, as Matt Sledge noted at HuffPo, has a broad remit -- to review the entirety of the estimated 4,500 federal crimes in the U.S. code. However, progressive lawmakers within the bipartisan group "hope the task force's meetings will serve as an opportunity to narrow in on federal drug laws," Sledge noted.

However, the task force is made up of conservatives with records of support for the War on Drugs.

Via HuffPo:

The over-criminalization task force was created by a Judiciary Committee voice vote. Members include staunch conservatives like Jim Sensenbrenner (R-Wis.), Spencer Bachus (R-Alaska), and Louie Gohmert (R-Texas), along with progressives like Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.), Steve Cohen (D-Tenn.) and Hakeem Jeffries (D-N.Y.). Outside Congress, supporters include organizations ranging from the Heritage Foundation to the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers.

Natasha Lennard

Natasha Lennard is an assistant news editor at Salon, covering non-electoral politics, general news and rabble-rousing. Follow her on Twitter @natashalennard, email nlennard@salon.com.

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