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  • Overcriminalization: Jail Time for Charging a Cell Phone, Drying Clothes

    Did you know that you could be put in jail for charging your cell phone? Or for hanging your clothes out to dry? These are just two examples of recent events illustrating the burden that overcriminalization puts on the poorest among us.

    Late last month, a homeless Floridaman, 28-year-old Darren Kersey, was arrested for charging his cell phone at a public charging station. The charge? “Theft of city utilities.”

    Sergeant Anthony Frangioni justified his action in the police report, stating that “theft of city utilities will not be tolerated during this bad economy.”

    How much does this so-called theft cost? “Cell phone chargers…run about seven cents a month,” said a spokesperson for Tampa Electric Company.

    This arrest is especially questionable since there are free charging stations for electric cars all around the Sarasota area. Thankfully, the judge threw out the case due to a lack of legal justification for the arrest.

    Mr. Kersey, who is supporting two daughters, lost the job that he had just started because he couldn’t make the $500 bail. He ended up spending only one night in jail, but it cost him what may have been the opportunity needed to rise out of poverty. He was fired for an unexcused absence.

    The Village Board of Great Neck, New York, not to be outdone, has criminalized hanging clothes out to dry. The new ordinance makes hanging clothes out to dry in a front lawn an offense punishable by up to a $1,000 fine and 15 days in jail.

    Is this to punish those who can’t afford clothes dryers, or to force them to live elsewhere? Is drying clothes on a line such an eyesore that a $1,000 fine and 15 days in jail are appropriate?

    On a side note, legislators are constantly forcing “green” down people’s throats. What is more “green” than hanging clothes to dry rather than using an appliance?

    Overcriminalization puts everyone at risk of becoming a criminal. It is especially dangerous for those who cannot afford a lawyer who can help them avoid violating the law, or to defend themselves once they are ensnared.

    Apparently, prison isn’t just for the bad guys anymore.

    David Jackman is currently a member of the Young Leaders Program at The Heritage Foundation. For more information on interning at Heritage, please visit: http://www.heritage.org/about/departments/ylp.cfm.

    photo by: s2art
    Posted in Legal [slideshow_deploy]

    34 Responses to Overcriminalization: Jail Time for Charging a Cell Phone, Drying Clothes

    1. jheasler12175 says:

      When I was a kid, nearly everyone dried their clothes by putting them on a clothesline. Most were in backyards but if you weren't lucky enough to have a backyard, whatever yard was available got used. I guess the aesthetics police are now mightily offended at the sight of laundry. It makes me wonder if the local authorities don't get some kind of cut from the utility company. Ergo, force everyone to put their laundry "on the grid" so to speak.

      • wllharrington says:

        First we must acknowledge who voted these people into office , thereby enabling them to make the rules and regulations and alllowing them to hire idiots.

      • muskegonlibertarian says:

        The cable companies pay a "franchise fee" to the city governments in which they operate. Here where I live, the franchise fee is $4.20 a month for which the city realistically has to do nothing at all except collect the money monthly (or whenever) from Comcast. There are a bit more than 3,000 people living here, so most likely every month the city is getting about $4,000, or $48,000 a year from those paying for cable tv service. Nice deal for the city. Not so good for everyone who has to pay this additional money. Just another way that government rips people off and provides nothing in return.

    2. June says:

      Another case of our great government running amuk. Little people with little brains with way too much ego, power and authority and no training in ethics. The result of our educational system.

      • Dan says:

        The central authority will provide for the laundry of your uniforms. Citizens will refrain from using their own means to launder. The central authority in its wisdom knows how to properly use earths natural resources. Please return to your living spaces.

    3. Bobbie says:

      theft of city utilities? How can something accessible to utilize paid by the public be called theft? This officer should lose his job. Thank goodness the judge has common sense. How can the business fire this man for an unexcused absence when his absence was beyond his control and inexcusable in itself? That's pretty heartless… where's the NLRB?

      Contradictions enforcing laws? Wow, we lost America! Hanging clothes to air dry is environmentally friendly and saves money for Friday pizza parties or helps to pay for other basic necessities the government is needlessly causing higher prices on. Check out the eyesores in every state that gets government Fannie and freddie housing. Government controlled process at the expense of the self reliant that excludes purchasers from full responsibility to pay or maintain the property. You see how grateful they are by the upkeep or rather the lack thereof and because they get assistance from government, they don't pay the property tax that would go down if they were independent purchasers with adequate ethics in responsibilities that sustains the economy!!! Like it used to be in America! Nobody has a right to a house they can't take care of or can't afford. But this is America run by ignorance and misguidance with an obsession to punish the innocent…

      • muskegonlibertarian says:

        Of course the power company makes a bit less profit if people hang their clothing outside to dry. This is a good example of the relationship between business and government which Libertarians such as myself oppose.

    4. huapakechi says:

      Thus the origin of the term "orwellian". When everything is against the law, the government only has to decide which charges to bring when they find your activities inconvenient or they wish to make an example in order to keep the population apprehensive.

    5. boone1 says:

      The stupid liberals that make these laws should be put in jail what a bunch of morons

      • huapakechi says:

        If I don't want to pay the taxes to keep 'em in prison, can I eliminate 'em? Cuts down on recidivism.

    6. Donald Mather says:

      Some people seem to have their priorites out of line PETTY . problems. More could be done to make EPA STOP USING CORN FOR FUEL((( GASOLINE)) Corn market is up TODAY CORN SHORTAGE>> FOOD PRICES TOO HIGH???? SOME ONE CALL YOUR SENATOR… I DID

      • Hilly says:

        As long as the corn they burn is the genetically modified garbage from monsanto, I say let them burn it. I'd rather see it go up in smoke than have to eat it. Or they can make the liberals eat it. :)

    7. huapakechi says:

      Has my previous post violated a thought crime?

    8. patriot 54 says:

      One person goes to jail for using electricity and another may go to jail for NOT using electricity and instead using FREE AIR! Can we get any more insane?

    9. Dave says:

      Maybe the Amish and Menonites are smarter than the average city dweller as they are in the rural areas where we don't care if they or anyone else wants to dry cloths by hanging them outside. Think of the money you can save by not buying fabric softener sheets or liquid and electricity, and that does not count the cost of the dryer.

    10. Gloria Wedemeyer says:

      They complain about global warming all the time and if someone is not using a dryer and hanging their clothes out to dry should be allowed. I moved into a new home in 2000 and clothes drying on lines was forbidden. I hated this. They say it is an eyesore, which I don't believe for a second but I am a law abiding citizen so I complied. However, after 12 years I see lawns that are not mowed in a timely manner, I see trash in yards that the homeowners are in no hurry to clean up and they call clean clothes on a line to be offensive.

    11. Gabby says:

      Shows the stupidity of some local governments. Or maybe HOAs.

    12. Tionico says:

      we own you, you do not have a life apart from us… so say the ruling elites to we mundanes. What they fail to recall is that WE THE PEOPLE are the sovereign, it is THEY who exist to serve US. Keep pushing, it will come back on them….. it has to. Once having tasted even a small amount of freedom, one never forgets. The Florida man should sue for false arrest…..

    13. JennieWalsh says:

      Evil destroys itself. For hope, see: eraofpeace.org/radio-show/ ———— and listen to the Dec. 11, 2012 radio broadcast, for the visualization and meditation for 12/12/12. Earth is transcending evil, earth is becoming Divine. 12/12/12 and 12/21&22/12 are very special days.

    14. Blair Franconia, NH says:

      Government should butt the hell out of MY BUSINESS!

    15. evocatus says:

      In the near future, everything that is not illegal will be mandatory…

      Police officers are psychologically selected for their willingness to obey command directives, not demonstrate restraint and good judgement…

      And our criminal justice system needs a constant influx of prisoners to feed the system and keep the cops, COs, prisons, judges and attorneys supported…

    16. Junk Bin says:

      in california the legislature is checking the laws to make sure that they have made everything illegal. The have promissed to colse any loophole that were missed and also making being a republican punishable by death

    17. @dboyerdr says:

      If there is any doubt in your mind that America has become a POLICE STATE under Obama, you're just not paying attention!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    18. Mike says:

      You want to see an ugly side of the human animal? Give them authority.

    19. Kay Lantow says:

      Our responsibilities as citizens has been completely eroded by the [non] educational system. Too many have given up their duty to participate in freedom and liberty and let the elitists run our lives and determine our worth. If enough don't wake up soon and take our government back, out of the hands of power elitists, freedom and liberty is doomed.

    20. Givendolu says:

      More proof of the insanity of our present times.

    21. Ronljl says:

      This sounds to me like the making of an Arlo Gutherie ballard. I wonder if we could fit Arlo hanging his clothes out behind Alice's along with his "instruments of destruction?"

    22. Blair Franconia, NH says:

      California's soooooooo libtarded it's pathetic

    23. Jay Whitmire says:

      Folks this is the side effect of establishing law enforcement instead of public safety. These officers are doing what they've been trained and encouraged to do. Do some of them seem to not have much common sense? Yes. But when you give someone that kind of power, when you give a group of people that kind of power, then it's only a matter of time before the power corrupts.

      Think about speeding tickets. When was the last time the local police were judged based on number of traffic accidents/fatalities rather than the number of tickets written? Red light cameras were born to make money, not protect public safety. People in general will do what they are incentivized to do. When you incent someone to write tickets, then that's what they do. If you incent them to arrests people, then that's what they do. If you incent them to make public safety top priority, then that's what they will do. Until the public demands results from their local elected officials, nothing will ever change.

      Sure there are bad apples in every group, but telling someone they are all powerful and don't answer to anyone tends to make them believe it. The public pays for these bad decisions and bad policies. It's time
      to demand more for our money!

    24. charles fisenne says:

      America claims to be a nation of law and that is OK as one way to have people behave properly. Better if
      all our justice system reflected the philosophy that Jesus taught. Kindness counts, kindness always counts

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