Updated: May 13, 2018
When the U.S. Constitution was written more than 200 years ago, there were three crimes in the federal code for which an individual could be charged: piracy, treason and counterfeiting. By the turn of the 21st century 27,000 pages of the federal criminal code cite 4,500 activities that can land an individual in federal prison. Prior to 2010 there were 17,000 billing codes under which health services could be billed to federal medical programs such as Medicare and Medicaid. With the introduction of the Affordable Care Act, known as Obamacare, the number of billing codes has jumped to 150,000, making it nearly impossible for health care providers to comply with the law.
While intentional fraud is rampant in most government sponsored contracting programs, there are an equal number of felons in federal prisons, charged and convicted of some sort of billing conspiracy who had nothing to do with the crime for which they were charged or any crime at all. Highly skilled individuals from business, science, medicine, law and other professionals languish in federal prisons, stripped of their assets and their talents being wasted. Lesser talented individuals of the criminal justice system, employees of the Bureau of Prisons, step into the lives of these professionals and squander a lifetime of training and work that should otherwise be used for the betterment of mankind.
Corporations, politicians and lobbyists have hijacked the criminal justice system. A pharmacist or scientist who crosses big pharma can find the justice department on his back. The person who threatens a politician's chances of reelection, or gets sideways with an important campaign contributor can be faced with a force beyond comprehension that will enter his life, and nothing will ever be the same again. Even in instances where the facts of the case have been argued in civil court and won, where an aggrieved party has agreed to a settlement and the books are closed, criminal charges can still be brought and a lengthy prison stay is a possibility.
Curiously, the government, legislative, judicial and executive branches, all agree on the need for reform. For years the BOP (Bureau of Prisons) has butted heads with Congress. Legislators say they want to see reform. The BOP says it is stressed and needs reform. The president has also spoken of the need for reform.
And where reform has been implemented, where does it show up? In recent years the biggest breaks have gone to that class of felons that is most likely to re-offend: drug dealers, men and women the public does not want to see back on the street, people who poison society, endanger our children and breed vertically integrated crime up and down the line. Admittedly sentencing guidelines for drug offences have been draconian and many drug dealers have received sentences far out of proportion to their crimes. Unfortunately, since the BOP, the guardians of society who warehouse these criminals, has no affective reentry programs to rehabilitate drug offenders, there is a 76% chance that they will re-offend and be back in prison within three years of their release. The recidivism rate among drug dealers is the highest of any class of felons.
Twenty seven percent of all U.S. citizens have gotten into trouble with the state or federal courts and have some kind of criminal records. More than 2,000,000 men and women are incarcerated at any given time. More than 200,000 inmates are housed in federal prisons. Everyone at some time or other commits a crime. Some do it everyday; sometimes many times a day. The individual whose check is returned for lack of funds has committed a crime. The individual who even discusses a scheme to commit a crime has committed a crime. He is a conspirator.
There is a class of felon who is convicted on the say so of another felon, someone who will give testimony, even false testimony, to better his own chances with the criminal justice system. Often individuals are convicted based on lies, greed, jealousy, revenge or just plain cowardice. And the prosecutors and judges go along with it. With the cards so unfairly stacked against the defendant, no one is safe. No matter how well trained a person is to obey the laws, no matter how precise are the quality assurance procedures of an organization, no matter how hard an individual or organization strives to avoid breaking the law, odds are that some ambitious prosecutor can find a reason to investigate and bring charges. And with the justice department being so polluted by the influence of business, politicians and powerful individuals, the average citizen doesn't have a chance. Every year individuals by the hundreds are dragged into this criminal justice vortex and subjected to inhuman punishment and unspeakable humiliation. Their lives are changed forever. They are stripped of their families, their assets and their dignity.