Members of the Michigan House of Representatives today announced efforts to reform the state’s criminal laws. The efforts will be spearheaded by a working group, co-chaired by Rep. Chris Afendoulis, R-Grand Rapids Township, and Rep. Kurt Heise, R-Plymouth.

The group will identify antiquated or unnecessary criminal statutes that can be repealed, and will recommend penalties that fit the severity of the crime. A package of bills introduced would repeal numerous outdated laws. The announced reforms are part of the House Republican Action Plan.

A 2014 study published by the Mackinac Center and the Manhattan Institute found that Michigan has more than 3,100 laws on the books and has created an average of 45 new crimes in each of the last six years.

Legislators are taking an encouraging first step toward a comprehensive review of Michigan’s criminal code. Its criminal law is overgrown with prohibitions that do little to protect personal safety or property. The House would do well to review even more criminal laws, particularly where the law harshly penalizes activity that most residents would consider harmless. In addition to repealing silly or outdated laws, the Legislature should enact a “default mens rea” bill, which would clarify the criminal intent required for the commission of a crime.

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