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NACDL News: Defense Bar Applauds Reauthorization of Congressional Task Force on Overcriminalization
By Ivan J. Dominguez
NACDL News columns.
On February 5, the House Judiciary Committee adopted a resolution reauthorizing the bipartisan Overcriminalization Task Force for an additional six months, through August 5, 2014. According to a press release issued by the House Judiciary Committee, the task force will continue to be evenly comprised of Democratic and Republican Members of Congress. The task force is led by Crime, Terrorism, Homeland Security, and Investigations Subcommittee Chairman Jim Sensenbrenner (R-Wis.) and Ranking Member Bobby Scott (D-Va.).
NACDL President Jerry J. Cox said: “NACDL is pleased that the Congressional Overcriminalization Task Force will continue its important work. It is NACDL’s fervent hope that the task force will make significant progress on issues including the erosion of the intent requirement in federal criminal law, the explosion of criminal provisions throughout the federal code and regulations in recent decades, mandatory minimum sentencing reform, the myriad collateral consequences of a conviction and barriers to successful re-entry, overincarceration, overfederalization of the criminal law, unfair plea bargaining practices, and the host of failed criminal justice policies that have contributed to the shame of the United States having more people behind bars, in absolute numbers and per capita, than any nation on earth. It is time these demonstrable injustices, and the accompanying wasteful spending of taxpayer dollars, be brought to a swift conclusion.”
Since the Overcrminalization Task Force was initially authorized last May, it has held four substantive hearings on Capitol Hill, with a fifth hearing scheduled for February 28. NACDL leadership testified as witnesses at two of those hearings. Links to webcasts of all of the task force’s hearings and the written testimony of all of the witnesses are available at www.nacdl.org/overcrimtaskforce. To learn more about NACDL’s extensive work on the problem of overcriminalization in America, visit www.nacdl.org/overcrim.