Two Years in Prison for Importing Orchids, Paperwork Errors

The Washington Times has a troubling article on the over criminalization of America. For example, they tell the story of a couple of retirees who had their house torn apart by gun wielding members of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

The agents who spent half a day ransacking Mrs. Norris’ longtime home in Spring, Texas, answered no questions while they emptied file cabinets, pulled books off shelves, rifled through drawers and closets, and threw the contents on the floor.

The six agents, wearing SWAT gear and carrying weapons, were with – get this- the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

Kathy and George Norris lived under the specter of a covert government investigation for almost six months before the government unsealed a secret indictment and revealed why the Fish and Wildlife Service had treated their family home as if it were a training base for suspected terrorists. Orchids.

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That’s right. Orchids.

George ended up doing two years for importing orchids without successfully navigating the bureaucracy, meaning he didn’t have the right paperwork. What’s worse, the judge sentencing him for it told him and his wife to make lemonade. No, really:

The judge who sentenced Mr. Norris had some advice for him and his wife: “Life sometimes presents us with lemons.” Their job was, yes, to “turn lemons into lemonade.”

The judge apparently failed to appreciate how difficult it is to run a successful lemonade stand when you’re an elderly diabetic with coronary complications, arthritis and Parkinson’s disease serving time in a federal penitentiary. If only Mr. Norris had been a Libyan terrorist, maybe some European official at least would have weighed in on his behalf to secure a health-based mercy release.

If you can get two years for not filing the right paperwork, then Houston, we have a problem. Then there’s the guy the feds went after for not putting a sticker on a package he mailed.

Instapundit writes, “We either need to cut back on the criminalization (my first choice) or start cabining prosecutorial discretion.”

I’m assuming the laws were put in place for a good reason (yes, I’m giving them a very liberal dose of the benefit of the doubt), so if someone is intentionally disobeying them, let’s do something about that. But sending everyone to the big house is a little extreme. I think a little common sense in the prosecutor’s office can go a long way.

Cross posted on All American Blogger.

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