News Release

Congressional Task Force on Overcriminalization Holds Third Hearing

Washington, DC (October 30, 2013) – The Congressional Task Force on Overcriminalization, which was created on May 7, 2013, by a unanimous vote of the House Committee on the Judiciary, held its third hearing this morning. The task force – composed of five Democrats and five Republicans – has been charged to “conduct hearings and investigations and issue a report on overcriminalization in the federal code, as well as possible solutions.”

The official topic of this morning’s hearing was “Regulatory Crime: Identifying the Scope of the Problem.” The witnesses at the hearing included Mr. Reed D. Rubinstein (Partner, Disnmore & Shohl, LLP) and Ms. Rachel Barkow (Segal Family Professor of Regulatory Law and Policy, New York School of Law), as well as two victims of regulatory overcriminalization, Mr. Lawrence Lewis (Bowie, MD) and Mrs. Joyce Kinder (Grand Rivers, KY). In addition to the explosion in regulatory offenses, though, the discussion at the hearing covered topics including the erosion of the mens rea (or criminal intent) requirement in the federal law and possible fixes, the collateral consequences of conviction, the perverse incentive to plead not because of actual guilt but because of the costs of trial and risk of incurring harsh mandatory minimum sentences, prosecutorial discretion, the Lacey Act, U.S. drug laws and resulting mass incarceration, and more.

NACDL President Jerry J. Cox said: “NACDL is proud to be at the forefront of reform efforts to address the crisis of overcriminalization in America. NACDL leaders have testified as witnesses at two of the three hearings held thus far by the Congressional Overcriminalization Task Force. And the Association will continue to work closely with leaders on both sides of the aisle who are committed to bringing about the significant changes necessary to reverse this dangerous trend in the American criminal justice system.”

Links to a webcast of the full hearing and written witness testimony are available here.

To learn more about NACDL’s work and leadership in the effort to combat and roll back overcriminalization in America, please visit

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Please contact Ivan J. Dominguez, Director of Public Affairs & Communications, (202) 465-7662 or for more information.

The National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers is the preeminent organization advancing the mission of the criminal defense bar to ensure justice and due process for persons accused of crime or wrongdoing. A professional bar association founded in 1958, NACDL's many thousands of direct members in 28 countries – and 90 state, provincial and local affiliate organizations totaling up to 40,000 attorneys – include private criminal defense lawyers, public defenders, military defense counsel, law professors and judges committed to preserving fairness and promoting a rational and humane criminal legal system.