, Volume 4, Issue 1, pp 99-104

Douglas Husak, Overcriminalization. The Limits of the Criminal Law

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Overcriminalization is an ambitious book. It not only offers a description of the current sorry state of affairs of the criminal law in the United States and a persuasive explanation of the wrongness of this condition (Chap. 1), but it also develops the foundations of a normative theory of criminalisation that may retard this situation (Chaps. 2 and 3) and discusses why this account fares better than alternative theories (Chap. 4). There is too much criminal law and philosophers have not said much about it. Douglas Husak’s excellent book begins to remedy this.

Husak’s book opens with a convincing discussion of the phenomenon of overcriminalisation and the problems related to it. Husak exposes with clarity how a system characterised by overcriminalisation puts at stake basic principles of the rule of law by making people unaware of what types of conduct are criminally proscribed; precluding them from having adequate notice of some of their legal obligations; and, ultimately, by undermini