At one time, the sanction of the criminal law was reserved for serious, morally culpable offenders. But during the past 40 years, an unholy alliance of tough-on-crime conservatives and anti-big-business liberals has utterly transformed the criminal law. Today, while violent crime often goes unpunished, Congress continues to add new, trivial offenses to the federal criminal code. With more than 4,000 federal offenses on the statute books, and thousands more buried in the Code of Federal Regulations, it is now frighteningly easy for American citizens to be hauled off to jail for actions that no reasonable person would regard as crimes. At the same time, rampant federalization and mandatory minimum sentencing are making America’s criminal justice system ever more centralized and punitive. The result is a labyrinthine criminal code, a burgeoning prison population, and often real injustice. Go Directly to Jail examines those alarming trends and proposes reforms that could rein in a criminal justice apparatus at war with fairness and common sense.
Erik Luna, Associate Professor of Law, University of Utah
James V. DeLong, Senior Fellow, Progress & Freedom Foundation
Timothy Lynch, Director, Cato Institute’s Project on Criminal Justice
Grace-Marie Turner, Founder and President, Galen Institute, Inc.