May 17, 2022

Crime II

Kudos to the Iowa legislature. They have been relentless, especially in the 2021 session, of creating new crimes and increasing penalties for old ones. I am in favor of more crimes because it means more criminals. Since I am a criminal defense attorney, it is good for business. To put it bluntly — I’m in favor of crime. Now I know this is not the accepted view and those reading this will ask how I could possibly be in favor of crime. Well, I just told you — I’m a criminal defense attorney. I represent those charged with a crime and the more crimes there are the more criminals there will be that need representation.

I’m sure any law enforcement officer reading this, a doubtful proposition, will react in horror to the sentiments expressed here. They shouldn’t be — they wouldn’t have anything to do either if there were no crime or criminals. After all, looking at it from a global prospective, we are in the same business. Without crime and criminals we would all have to find something else to do. This also includes jailers, prison guards, probation and parole officers, prosecutors, and innumerable therapists and substance abuse counsels. In fact, it is safe to say without crime and criminals, we would quickly fall into a severe recession; the unemployment rate would increase dramatically.

I’ll have to admit I was disappointed when Jake Chapman, the President of the Iowa Senate, failed to get enough votes to criminalize our teachers for doing whatever Mr. Chapman doesn’t think they should be doing. If I recollect correctly he wanted to create some felonies that would apply to our public school teachers if they were to use certain materials in their classrooms or libraries. I think we could have had some interesting cases if he had been successful. Hopefully, he’ll still be around for the next session in 2023 and accomplish what he has set out to do.

Mr. Chapman and his colleagues did accomplish a lot though. They increased penalties significantly for protesting. The legislature and the governor found all the protests after George Floyd very annoying and they vowed to do something about it. You have to realize that much criminal legislation results from one or more legislator or the governor being annoyed about something. Having people in the capital building or on the streets of Des Moines was not only annoying but disruptive and they were not going to put up with that. Unfortunately those new crimes and enhanced penalties haven’t helped much here in rural Iowa. You actually have to have some minorities around to cause a problem and there aren’t any. Oh well, maybe that will eventually change.

So, in closing, just remember: we need crime; it is a necessary part of our economy.

Richard E. H. Phelps II