A national trend extending criminal sanctions to what were conventionally matters left to civil justice or professional norms is increasingly being described as “overcriminalization.” Although criminal penalties can be effective, critics of the trend, on both the left and right, express concern that criminal codes afford prosecutors broad discretion in enforcement initiatives while making it increasingly difficult for Americans to comply in good faith. Additionally, concern has emerged that valuable state resources necessary to protect state residents from the most serious crimes may be redirected to enforce new laws at odds with traditional common law principles.
This forum explored the extent of such “overcriminalization” in Illinois and how it might best be addressed. We were fortunate to feature such a distinguished group of speakers to explore and help understand overcriminalization trends in the state. Keynoting the event will be Judge Joseph E. Birkett, an appellate judge on Illinois’s Second District Appellate Court.