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"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 216: Food Safety Accountability Act of 2011
A bill to increase penalties for certain knowing and intentional violations relating to food that is misbranded or adulterated.
This bill would create new criminal offenses under Title 18 of the U.S. Code for certain violations of the Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act (21 U.S.C. § 321 et seq.). Specifically, S. 216 would criminalize food violations of subsections 301(a), (b), (c), and (k) of the Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act (codified at 21 U.S.C. § 331) that a person engages in “knowingly and intentionally to defraud or mislead” and “with conscious disregard or reckless disregard of a risk of death or serious bodily injury.” Such violations would subject an individual to criminal sanctions of up to ten years imprisonment, fines under Title 18 of the U.S. Code, or both. S. 216 has a slightly more protective criminal-intent (mens rea) requirement than S. 3767 from the 111th Congress (Senator Leahy’s 2010 version of the legislation). However, the new bill still authorizes redundant criminal punishment for acts that are already criminalized under 21 U.S.C. §§ 331 and 333. Under current law, violations are punishable by up to three years imprisonment, up to $10,000 in fines, or both when they involve an “intent to defraud or mislead” on the part of the defendant. [Ed. note: The amended version of S. 216 that the Senate Judiciary Committee reported out for consideration by the full Senate addresses most of the redundancy problem described above, but the criminal offenses remain vague, overly broad, and insufficiently protective of those making innocent mistakes.]
Leahy (D - VT)
4/18/2011: Referred to the Subcommittee on Health.
04/15/2011: Referred to House Energy and Commerce Committee
04/15/2011: Referred to House Judiciary Committee
04/14/2011: Senate passage with amendment by unanimous consent
03/31/2011: Reported to Senate with an amendment in the nature of a substitute by Senate Judiciary Committee
03/31/2011: Mark up in the Senate Judiciary Committee
01/27/2011: Introduced in Senate