• Heritage Action
  • More
Return to Rule of Law Initiative

Overcriminalization

"Overcriminalization" describes the trends in America - and particulary in Congress - to use the criminal law to "solve" every problem, punish every mistake (instead of making proper use of civil penalties), and coerce Americans into conforming their behavior to satisfy social engineering objectives.

S 1879: Child Abuse Reporting Enforcement Act

Official Title

A bill to ensure that states have enacted criminal statutes that require individuals to report child abuse to law enforcement or child protective agencies.

Analysis

According to statements by the bill’s sponsor, this bill was written in reaction to the child sex abuse scandal at Penn State University. This bill would penalize states that do not enact a felony offense with a minimum of 1 year imprisonment for “any person who, having reasonable cause to believe that a child has been subjected to child abuse or acts of child abuse, fails to report such information immediately” to the police or state child protection agency. Congress is attempting to enact this law at the state level through its spending power. If a state does not enact such a law, the bill would revoke all of the state’s federal social services allotments. There is no definition of “reasonable cause to believe” or “immediately,” which can potentially lead to serious issues of overcriminalization. This establishes that a crime can be committed without taking any action whatsoever.

Legislation Details
SPONSOR

Menendez (D - NJ)

STATUS:

11/16/2011: Referred to Senate Finance Committee
11/16/2011: Introduced in Senate