That is a state crime. Right or wrong, it really isn't comparable to federal crimes. Different sovereign and all. And there are a lot of white collar "criminals" in federal prison. And there is a litany of people sent to prison for ridiculous things.
n 2009, Mr. Anderson loaned his son some tools to dig for arrowheads near a favorite campground of theirs. Unfortunately, they were on federal land. Authorities "notified me to get a lawyer and a damn good one," Mr. Anderson recalls.
There is no evidence the Andersons intended to break the law, or even knew the law existed, according to court records and interviews. But the law, the Archaeological Resources Protection Act of 1979, doesn't require criminal intent and makes it a felony punishable by up to two years in prison to attempt to take artifacts off federal land without a permit.
Faced with that reality, the two men, who didn't find arrowheads that day, pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor and got a year's probation and a $1,500 penalty each. "We kind of wonder why it got took to the level that it did," says Mr. Anderson, 68 years old.
With the growing number of federal crimes, the number of people sentenced to federal prison has risen nearly threefold over the past 30 years to 83,000 annually. The U.S. population grew only about 36% in that period. The total federal prison population, over 200,000, grew more than eightfold—twice the growth rate of the state prison population, now at 2 million, according the federal Bureau of Justice Statistics
Tougher federal drug laws account for about 30% of people sentenced, a decline from over 40% two decades ago. The proportion of people sentenced for most other crimes, such as firearms possession, fraud and other non-violent offenses, has doubled in the past 20 years.
Last September, retired race-car champion Bobby Unser told a congressional hearing about his 1996 misdemeanor conviction for accidentally driving a snowmobile onto protected federal land, violating the Wilderness Act, while lost in a snowstorm. Though the judge gave him only a $75 fine, the 77-year-old racing legend got a criminal record.
Mr. Unser says he was charged after he went to authorities for help finding his abandoned snowmobile. "The criminal doesn't usually call the police for help," he says.
A Justice Department spokesman cited the age of the case in declining to comment. The U.S. Attorney at the time said he didn't remember the case.
Some jurists are disturbed by the diminished requirement to show criminal intent in order to convict. In a 1998 decision, federal appellate judge Richard Posner, a noted conservative, attacked a 1994 federal law under which an Illinois man went to prison for three years for possessing guns while under a state restraining order taken out by his estranged wife. He possessed the guns otherwise legally, they posed no immediate threat to the spouse, and the restraining order didn't mention any weapons bar.
Occasionally, Americans are going to prison in the U.S. for violating the laws and rules of other countries. Last year, Abner Schoenwetter finished 69 months in federal prison for conspiracy and smuggling. His conviction was related to importing the wrong kinds of lobsters and bulk packaging them in plastic, rather than separately in boxes, in violation of Honduran laws.
According to court records and interviews, Mr. Schoenwetter had been importing lobsters from Honduras since the mid-1980s. In early 1999, federal officials seized a 70,000-pound shipment after a tip that the load violated a Honduran statute setting a minimum size on lobsters that could be caught. Such a shipment, in turn, violated a U.S. law, the Lacey Act, which makes it a felony to import fish or wildlife if it breaks another country's laws. Roughly 2% of the seized shipment was clearly undersized, and records indicated other shipments carried much higher percentages, federal officials said.
In an interview, Mr. Schoenwetter, 65 years old, said he and other buyers routinely accepted a percentage of undersized lobsters since the deliveries from the fishermen inevitably included smaller ones. He also said he didn't believe bringing in some undersized lobsters was illegal, noting that previous shipments had routinely passed through U.S. Customs.
Robert Kern, a 62-year-old Virginia hunting-trip organizer, was also prosecuted in the U.S. for allegedly breaking the law of another country. Instead of lobsters from Honduras, Mr. Kern's troubles stemmed from moose from Russia.
He faced a 2008 Lacey Act prosecution for allegedly violating Russian law after some of his clients shot game from a helicopter in that country. In the end, he was acquitted after a Russian official testified the hunters had an exemption from the helicopter hunting ban. Still, legal bills totaling more than $860,000 essentially wiped out his retirement savings, Mr. Kern says.
Many of the EPA rules carry potential criminal penalties. Krister Evertson, a would-be inventor, recently spent 15 months in prison for environmental crimes where there was no evidence he harmed anyone, or intended to.
In May 2004 he was arrested near Wasilla, Alaska, and charged with illegally shipping sodium metal, a potentially flammable material, without proper packaging or labeling.
He told federal authorities he had been in Idaho working to develop a better hydrogen fuel cell but had run out of money. He had moved some sodium and other chemicals to a storage site near his workshop in Salmon, Idaho, before traveling back to his hometown of Wasilla to raise money by gold-mining.
Mr. Evertson said he believed he had shipped the sodium legally. A jury acquitted him in January 2006.
However, Idaho prosecutors, using information Mr. Evertson provided to federal authorities in Alaska, charged him with violating the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act, a 1976 federal law that regulates handling of toxic waste. The government contended Mr. Evertson had told federal investigators he had abandoned the chemicals. It also said the landlord of the Idaho storage site claimed he was owed back rent and couldn't find the inventor—allegations Mr. Evertson disputed.
Once the government deemed the chemicals "abandoned," they became "waste" and subject to RCRA. He was charged under a separate federal law with illegally moving the chemicals about a half-mile to the storage site.
"If I had abandoned the chemicals, why would I have told the investigators about them?" said Mr. Evertson in an interview. He added that he spent $100,000 on the material and always planned to resume his experiments.
Critics contend that federal criminal law is increasingly, and unconstitutionally, impinging on the sovereignty of the states. The question recently came before the Supreme Court in the case of Carol Bond, a Pennsylvania woman who is fighting a six-year prison sentence arising out of violating a 1998 federal chemical-weapons law tied to an international arms-control treaty. The law makes it a crime for an average citizen to possess a "chemical weapon" for other than a "peaceful purpose." The statute defines such a weapon as any chemical that could harm humans or animals.
Ms. Bond's criminal case stemmed from having spread some chemicals, including an arsenic-based one, on the car, front-door handle and mailbox of a woman who had had an affair with her husband. The victim suffered a burn on her thumb.
In court filings, Ms. Bond's attorneys argued the chemical-weapons law unconstitutionally intruded into what should have been a state criminal matter. The state didn't file charges on the chemicals, but under state law she likely would have gotten a less harsh sentence, her attorneys said.
To me the most shocking statistic in that article is the decline in the percentage of offenders in federal prison for drug offenses. It is only 30%. I would have never guessed that.
We are filling our prisons with people who have done things that either shouldn't be crimes or if they are crimes should be federal ones.
It is horrible. And the very people who should by their claims care the most about it, liberals, don't seem to care. Your story about the homeless guy sucks. But there are a lot worse things going on in the federal system.
Source : https://reason.com/blog/2011/10/14/rajaratnam-and-no-one-has-gone1447