Recently, in a small town in Pennsylvania, an insurance agent for Nationwide Insurance noticed a certain plant growing in a garden on the property he was inspecting. This insurance agent identified the plant as marijuana and notified the police about this nefarious behavior. An elderly couple lived at that property, and while the husband was out at the time, the wife was dragged from her home, in her underwear, while police proceeded to ransack the home for four hours. They found nothing illegal. And that marijuana plant that started this whole debacle? Actually a hibiscus. This is only one of countless examples of this exact sort of "raid first, ask questions later" mentality that police forces in this country have adopted. But it's only natural that this sort of bad behavior has evolved because of the huge problem of overcriminalization. And when the difference between "criminal" and "lawbreaker" is more than just splitting semantic hairs, something needs to be done. Special guest Clark Neily of the Cato Institute joins James Harrigan and Antony Davies to talk about this and more on this week's episode of Words and Numbers.
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MBAs and law degrees
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Las Vegas looking to ban private cars
Foolishness of the Week
Confidence in Police Back at Historical Average
This Week's Guest
Clark Neily is vice president for criminal justice at the Cato Institute. His areas of interest include constitutional law, overcriminalization, civil forfeiture, police accountability, and gun rights. Neily is the author of Terms of Engagement: How Our Courts Should Enforce the Constitution’s Promise of Limited Government.
Before joining Cato in 2017, Neily was a senior attorney and constitutional litigator at the Institute for Justice and director of the Institute’s Center for Judicial Engagement. He is also an adjunct professor at the University of Texas School of Law, where he teaches constitutional litigation and public-interest law.
Neily served as co-counsel in District of Columbia v. Heller, the historic case in which the Supreme Court held for the first time that the Second Amendment protects an individual right to own a gun for self-defense.
Neily received his undergraduate and law degrees from the University of Texas, where he was Chief Articles Editor of the Texas Law Review.
The public-choice dynamics behind overcriminalization
57-year-old grandfather from India partially paralyzed by a cop while visiting his son in Alabama — cop charged with assault but jury hung; charges dismissed
Philadelphia police captain slugs woman because he mistakenly believed she threw water on him. The officer was terminated by the police chief, but reinstated by an arbitrator with back pay.
Phila. cop who punched woman gets job back
NYPD officer nearly kills bicyclist by pushing him into a curb. The officer was convicted of lying about it in court but not punished.
Ex-Officer Guilty in Critical Mass Confrontation
A key hallmark of our criminal justice system is that members of law enforcement take transgressions by citizens very, very seriously, but transgressions by fellow police and prosecutors not seriously at all. And this is not just when there is a dispute about whether a cop/prosecutor committed misconduct, but where there is no doubt whatsoever about the fact of the misconduct and the cop/prosecutor’s culpability. Police and prosecutors are uniformly in favor of leniency and mercy when one of their own is convicted of wrongdoing.