by Becki Gray
Former Senior Vice President, John Locke Foundation
House Bill 379, sponsored by Senator Andy Wells and Representative Dennis Riddell has passed the Senate unanimously and is now in the House.. It will be heard in the House Judiciary I Committee today and if approved, will go to the House for a final concurrence vote.
The proposal would require the Administrative Office of the Courts, state agencies, boards and commissions and local governments to submit to the General Assembly a list of all the crimes contained within their jurisdiction.
Those who follow JLF research know, North Carolina has a very complex, complicated and convoluted compilation of actions that carry criminal violations. It is impossible to know what or where all these crimes are found, much less comply with many of them. House Bill 379 would provide the General Assembly (and the public) of a list of all the crimes. It’s as simple as that.
Armed with this information (and as a second step to this problem) lawmakers, legal experts and law enforcement and justice officers will then be able to identify duplicative, outdated, unreasonable and even silly crimes and begin to clean up the criminal code and address North Carolina’s overcriminalization problem. But that’s down the road, first we need the list. That’s what House Bill 379 does.
Our criminal code is a mess with crimes scattered throughout all levels of government and is an impediment to entrepreneurs, businesses large and small and citizens who unwittingly may be committing crimes. We may also be criminalizing activity that would be better addressed in other ways.
Getting a comprehensive list is the first step in sorting this out. House Bill 379 does that. And we think that is a very good idea.