AUSTIN – Today, the Texas Public Policy Foundation released a report by Center for Effective Justice Senior Policy Analyst Vikrant Reddy on the growing number of non-traditional criminal offenses in state law that are not listed in the state penal code. The paper, More Law, Less Justice: The Proliferation of Non-Traditional Crimes in the Texas Legal Code, recommends the creation of a temporary voluntary commission to review the criminal laws outside the state penal code and recommend which offenses ought to be placed within the penal code and which to abolish altogether.
“Texas law now lists about 1,500 criminal offenses outside the penal code that traditionally would never have been recognized as crimes,” said Reddy. “Among these are eleven different felonies related the collection of oysters. Creating a commission to review these offenses and to recommend which ones to eliminate—or at least place in the penal code—would be a good first step in returning the law to its proper scope.
“Texas adds over forty new criminal laws per legislative session—not including accompanying sentencing enhancements. Because nobody has holistically reviewed the tangle of offenses in over twenty years, unusual penalty inconsistencies have developed. Dredging for oysters at night can be a felony, but hiding a human corpse is a mere misdemeanor.”
To read the full report, visit:

Vikrant Reddy is a Senior Policy Analyst with the Center for Effective Justice at the Texas Public Policy Foundation.

The Texas Public Policy Foundation is a non-profit, free-market research institute based in Austin, Texas.

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