While numerous violent criminals and white-collar criminals roam free, and innocent people rot in prison and on death row for crimes they didn’t commit, law-enforcement resources are used to destroy the lives of consenting adults who do not harm anyone. One article I ready suggested that approximately four million people are arrested each year and 350,000 are in prison for consensual crimes.
I am considering a “consensual crime” to be defined as a criminal act committed by two or more people, who consent to involvement, and does not involve any non-consenting individuals. The following is a non-exclusive list of criminal acts that could be considered consensual between the parties: prostitution, adultery, homosexual conduct, sodomy, gambling, some drug use (marijuana), and assisted suicide.
Another name for these sort of “crimes” may be victimless crimes, because they do not harm anyone as they have no impact on a person other than those who chose to engage in the activity. Thus, there is no victim.
When people are arrested for those crimes, their ability to remain employed is jeopardized. A conviction and prison sentence virtually guarantees the loss of their livelihoods. Upon release from prison, the criminal record may impede their ability to find new jobs.
Even if they are not convicted of a crime, the arrest record alone can significantly harm their lives. It too can lead to loss of jobs and difficulty finding new ones, and it may interfere with other aspects of their lives, such as the ability to obtain credit, purchase a car, rent an apartment, maintain custody of children or to vote.
Thus, the financial impact of either a conviction or arrest may mean these people need long-term assistance from government or charities. Or they may resort to serious crime based on what they learned from real criminals while incarcerated. This is all a huge drain on the economy and is in addition to the costs of arresting, prosecuting, and imprisoning them.
To avoid conviction and prison, the accused may have to spend thousands of dollars on legal fees. For certain crimes, the amounts can run to tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars. When faced with the possibility of causing financial ruin to themselves and their families, some contemplate suicide and may see it as the only way out. If this is the action the accused takes, that impacts society from the loss of productivity, and more importantly, it impacts the family and friends of the accused.
Government causes all this turmoil in the lives of consenting adults to “protect” them from possible consequences that might occur to them – and them alone – from their own freely chosen acts.
Because these arrests devastate the lives of harmless people, a strong argument can be made that Christian mercy, along with the mercy taught by other religions and philosophies, is reason enough for leaving consenting adults alone, but the irony rarely seen is that often it is in the name of Christian principles that these laws exist or are pursued….
Law-enforcement resources are wasted investigating consensual acts
Government’s focus on consensual acts leads to more unethical conduct in another way. To the extent law-enforcement resources are used against consenting adults, there is a corresponding reduction in the resources available for apprehending criminals that pose a true threat to society-those criminals who would cause harm to others and only seek to benefit themselves.
An enormous need exists to increase efforts to arrest those who harm the innocent. They victimize someone every two seconds in the United States, and five out of six Americans may someday be victims of violent crime. According to author Peter McWilliams, arrests are being made for only about 20% of crimes committed against persons or property. He also says one in six murderers gets away, eight of ten burglars aren’t arrested, and only 5% of forcible rapes lead to prison time.
McWilliams further reports that $10 billion in personal property is stolen each year and never recovered. Billions more are illicitly obtained through white-collar crime. Even if the person is not harmed, if the victim files an insurance claim or takes action to recover damages, this alone ties up resources and takes resources from the economy, causing an impact that was definitely undesired.
Using law-enforcement resources against consensual acts also makes the U.S. more vulnerable to terrorism. According to The 9/11 Commission Report, in 2000 there were twice as many FBI agents assigned to enforcing drug laws than assigned to counterterrorism. The FBI’s head of counterterrorism told the Commission he wishes he’d had “500 analysts looking at Osama Bin Ladin . . . instead of two.” And former Vice President Al Gore charged that prior to the September 11 attacks, the Bush administration’s Justice Department had more FBI agents investigating a suspected brothel in New Orleans than monitoring Bin Ladin and al Qaeda.
There obviously is a strong need for law enforcement to improve its responses to real crimes committed against persons or property. Yet each year in the U.S., law enforcement applies some $50 billion to arrest, prosecute, and lock up persons who commit consensual crimes. Some estimates are that roughly half of all law-enforcement resources are used in connection with consensual crimes.
Those resources could go a long way toward remedying the current deficiencies in law enforcement’s handling of more serious crimes. Due to this misallocation of resources, many violent and sociopathic criminals are able to escape justice and continue preying on the public. The same principle applies to white-collar criminals who may never be detected… lest we forget the Enron and WorldCom scandals.