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Bill introduced to de-criminalize the Lacey Act

The Lacey Act, enacted in 1900, prohibits the interstate transportation of wildlife or plants obtained in violation of federal, state or foreign laws. The statute received attention recently when Gibson Guitars was raided by federal agents for allegedly importing ebony and rosewood in violation of the laws of India and Madagascar. In 2001, several Alabama fishermen were sentenced to eight years in prison for importing lobster in violation of Honduran regulations, even though the Honduran Attorney General stated that the regulations were invalid. Last week, Kentucky Senator Rand Paul introduced S. 2062, the Freedom from Over-Criminalization and Unjust Seizures ("FOCUS") Act of 2012, to address the Lacey Act's "broad overcriminalization." The FOCUS Act would replace the Lacey Act's criminal penalties with a civil penalty system. It would also strike from the Act all references to "foreign law."

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Rafael Mangual
Project Manager,
Legal Policy

Manhattan Institute


Published by the Manhattan Institute

The Manhattan Insitute's Center for Legal Policy.