Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Are We Criminalizing Everyone?

Will Texas continue our obsession with incarceration and hiking criminal penalties if the conservative movement starts seriously pushing the other direction? If legislators keep criminalizing business and occupational practices, we may find out!

Via an email forwarded by a reader from Texans for Texas, I see the Texas Public Policy Foundation's Marc Levin, a past Grits guest blogger, has a new policy brief examining the "Preoccupation with Occupational Licensing." He analyzes pending legislation that criminalizes various conduct that in the past was considered at most tortuous. Levin writes:
Regulating new occupations effectively means creating more crimes because the default general criminal penalty of a Class A misdemeanor under Occupations Code, §165.151 for violating any rule under the Occupations Code is applicable.

In addition to expanding the scope of criminal penalties, subjecting an occupation to government regulation reduces competition among providers, often causing higher prices and lower productivity. Consumer choice can also be compromised because of standardization, as demonstrated by the cases of African hairbraiders denied cosmetology licenses.
Good stuff - see the rest, and for legislators and those of you around the capitol, Marc's right: It's high time to rethink new criminal penalties as the "default" solution to every social problem, and it has to start with you guys.


ambimb said...

Sort of different, but to the same point that we're using criminal law to do things it shouldn't do: Why are kids in primary and secondary schools getting arrested *at school* for basic school-age misbehavior (e.g., fights, petty thefts, etc.)? There's something deeply wrong w/criminalizing so many aspects of life. Land of the free? Right.

Gritsforbreakfast said...

I think Marc would very much agree with you and has written elsewhere on that topic, e.g., see here.

Anonymous said...

Amb, I so agree. The system is so messed up. It seems a lot like fear and hatred of our own children. It's sick. No doubt.

Anonymous said...

Fear and hatred never accomplished anything good...ever.