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Go Directly to Jail: The Criminalization of Almost Everything Hardcover – October 25, 2004


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Go Directly to Jail: The Criminalization of Almost Everything + Three Felonies A Day: How the Feds Target the Innocent + The Tyranny of Good Intentions: How Prosecutors and Law Enforcement Are Trampling the Constitution in the Name of Justice
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 160 pages
  • Publisher: Cato Institute (October 25, 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1930865635
  • ISBN-13: 978-1930865631
  • Product Dimensions: 9.5 x 6.3 x 0.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 14.1 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (11 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #690,536 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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187 of 190 people found the following review helpful By Crime & Federalism on January 4, 2005
Format: Hardcover
You're an honest businessperson with a strong moral compass. You don't cheat on your taxes, or your spouse. You regularly consult with your attorney to ensure that you're complying with the myriad regulations governing your business. You even go the extra mile, talking with children at "Junior Achievement" programs about how to achieve success. The possibility of a criminal prosecution is the last thing on your mind. "The government only goes after real criminals," you think to yourself.

The latest offering from the Cato Institute says: Think again.

In Go Directly to Jail: The Criminalization of Almost Everything, six essays catalog decent people caught in the indecent web of over 4,000 federal criminal laws.

In "Overextending the Criminal Law," Professor Eric Luna introduces us to the expanding federal criminal code, which now includes, to the extent that scholars can even count them, over 4,000 crimes. Worse, these crimes have come loose from the common law moorings that punished the evil, and acquitted the good. By eliminating the traditional requirement that a person is guilty only of he commits a guilty act motivated guilty mind, "legislators" are turning traditional "criminal sanctions" into "another tool in their regulatory toolkit." As the book jacket explains, "an unholy alliance of tough-on-crime conservatives and anti-big-business liberals has utterly transformed the criminal law" into a trap for the unwary.

In "The New 'Criminal' Classes: Legal Sanctions and Business Managers" James DeLong discusses the general principles of criminal law that affect all cases, especially the lack of a "guilty mind" requirement in most modern criminal laws. Thus, someone who acts in good faith (even consulting with a lawyer before acting) can end up in prison.
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49 of 50 people found the following review helpful By The Dilettante on July 7, 2006
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
One day someone will write a comprehensive, scholarly and multi-disciplinary study of the phenomenon of federal overcriminalization. Until then, this is a valuable resource for a topic thusfar known mostly through experience and anecdote. The author/editor has collected several law review articles, all of which were apparently published before in other places under the auspices of the Cato Institute. Each of these articles is excellent, but they are all quite specialized, and serve only as case studies. They give glipses of the "big picture" of mission creep in federal criminal law, but the details remain indistinct. They also have an unfortunate "think-tanky" feel to them, leaving the impression of a lack of objectivity. Libertarians will be convinced, but civil-rights-minded liberals may take the Cato imprint as an indication of bias. That is unfortunate, because there is nothing partisan about the very real problem these essays document.

The author/editor is to be commended for paying attention to vice and drug crimes. Too often, commentators in this area focus only on white-collar crime. This is understandable, since this is where the money is. But prostitutes, murderers, and drug dealers can be federal criminal defendants, too, and they too are often victims of overcriminalization. Mandatory minimum sentences can be every bit as frightening as the responsible corporate officer doctrine.

Ultimately, this book is more than a success. But it is also an invitation to delve deeper into overcriminalization, an area ripe for new scholarship.
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55 of 62 people found the following review helpful By John Matlock on March 18, 2005
Format: Hardcover
Each of us probably broke a half dozen Federal government laws today. From the three laws listed in the Constitution we have now grown to over 4,000 Federal laws, and an uncountable number of regulations with the force of law.

Today I was watching the news about smashing meth labs in somewhere like Iowa. A few years ago they found two labs. Last year they found fifteen hundred. It seems like the drug laws, the annual wars on drugs, the drug Czar, aren't really doing very much. I believe that one definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over when you know it isn't working.

Then there's the so called Patriot's Act which to most people seem to directly violate the Constitution. (And to which challenges are making their way through the court system.)

Reading about the apparent lapses in any kind of common sense described in this book is scary. You can only hope that they, whoever they are, aren't really out to get you.

The prison population in the United States is 1 out of every 142 residents. About 3.1% of all adult US citizens are in prison, jail, on probation or parole. This is about six times the percentage in England.

Hey, you guys in Washington, something is wrong here.
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Jane Doe on January 21, 2010
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I purchased this book for an attorney facing indictment for a variety of absurd charges. This person has no intention of rolling over and playing dead for the Feds. This book confirms everything I and He have known for a very long time. The Feds as well as almost all aspects of the Federal govt is out of control.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Prometheus I on February 4, 2013
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I bought this book and "Three Felonies a Day" at the same time. This book is much better in that it talks about cases against normal, everyday people and how they ran afoul of the law. "Three Felonies a Day" was a big disappointment. Unless you want to read about politicians and wall streeters getting in trouble. I couldn't relate to them. This book is much closer to home and gives stories of people you can relate to.
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