A blog by Miami Criminal Defense Lawyer Brian Tannebaum. Commenting on criminal law issues of local and national interest.

Monday, December 04, 2006

The Criminalization of Life

Although I generally delete chain e-mails (especially those that ask me to send them to 5 people), I found this of interest:

Scenario: Jack pulls into school parking lot with rifle in gun rack.

1973.....Vice Principal comes over, takes a look at Jack's rifle, goes to his car and gets his to show Jack.

2006 ......School goes into lockdown, FBI called, Jack hauled off to jail and never sees his truck or gun again. Counselors called in for traumatized students and teachers.

Scenario: Johnny and Mark get into a fist fight after school.

1973 ...Crowd gathers. Mark wins. Johnny and Mark shake hands and end up best friends. Nobody goes to jail, nobody arrested, nobody expelled.

2006 ......Police called, SWAT team arrives, arrests Johnny and Mark. Charge them with assault, both expelled even though Johnny started it.

Scenario: Billy breaks a window in his father's car and his Dad gives him a whipping.

1973 ........ Billy is more careful next time, grows up normal, goes to college, and becomes a successful businessman.

2006....... Billy's Dad is arrested for child abuse. Billy removed to foster care and joins a gang. Billy's sister is told by state psychologist that she remembers being abused herself and their Dad goes to prison. Billy's mom has affair with psychologist.

Scenario: Mark gets a headache and takes some headache medicine to school.

1973..... Mark shares headache medicine with Principal out on the smoking dock.

2006 ........... Police called, Mark expelled from school for drug violations. Car searched for drugs and weapons.

Scenario: Johnny takes apart leftover firecrackers from the 4th of July, puts them in a model airplane paint bottle, blows up a red ant bed.

1973 ....... Ants die.

2006........... BATF, Homeland Security, FBI called. Johnny charged with domestic terrorism, FBI investigates parents, siblings removed from home, computers confiscated, Johnny's Dad goes on a terror watch list and is never allowed to fly again.

1 comment:

  1. Anonymous10:40 AM

    Hi Brian, Interesting post. I think many of us wish for a "simpler" time when people of all walks of life had discretion to deal with a multitude of situations. But times have changed, and not necessarily for the better. I think that in all of the listed scenarios, the driving force behind the 2006 reaction is "Liability".

    Everyone is so afraid of being sued and found "liable" that often people overreact in their response. It's glaringly obvious in the juvenile system and the school system. I was shocked to learn that it basically takes an act of God for a teacher to be allowed to hold a student after school as punishment. All sorts of admin. approvals and parent notifications are required, first.

    One must wonder...what role has lawyers played in this scheme. The lawyer-litigator suing everyone under the sun for failing to do this or that, e.g. the armed robber who sues 7-11 after being shot during his robbery; the lawyer-lobbyist assisting various groups in getting crazy legislation passed, be it criminal or administrative; The lawyer-counselor advising his client on issues of risk management and liability.

    Unfortunately, I don't know what the answer is or how to fix the problem. If it ever is to be fixed, I think its ironic that it will probably take a bunch of us lawyers to come up with and implement the answers. Call me a cynic, but I suspect that will occur on a cold day in hell.

    Happy Holidays