You Commit Three Felonies a Day
September 29, 2009
Laws have become too vague and the concept of intent has disappeared.
This is a great article that was posted a few days ago in the online version of the Wall Street Journal. This topic furthers the EEOC‘s case for making sure one doesn’t have a “bright-line” policy when rejecting job applicants with criminal records. The EEOC and many State Laws want employers to demonstrate job relatedness, the nature of the offense, whether the candidate was a repeat offender and how long ago the crime was committed. Reading this article one must ask themselves, “How many times have I broken the law today?” Setting up consistent standards when doing employment background investigations is more important now than ever before.
When we think about the pace of change in technology, it’s usually to marvel at how computing power has become cheaper and faster or how many new digital ways we have to communicate. Unfortunately, this pace of change is increasingly clashing with some of the slower-moving parts of our culture.
Technology moves so quickly we can barely keep up, and our legal system moves so slowly it can’t keep up with itself. By design, the law is built up over time by court decisions, statutes and regulations. Sometimes even criminal laws are left vague, to be defined case by case. Technology exacerbates the problem of laws so open and vague that they are hard to abide by, to the point that we have all become potential criminals.
Boston civil-liberties lawyer Harvey Silverglate calls his new book “Three Felonies a Day,” referring to the number of crimes he estimates the average American now unwittingly commits because of vague laws. New technology adds its own complexity, making innocent activity potentially criminal.
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