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Editor's Note: In Michigan, too many crimes

Ingrid Jacques
The Detroit News

Michigan's criminal code is over the top, and some state lawmakers are finally doing something about it.

For years, the Legislature has turned to penning new laws to halt behavior it doesn't like, making too many well-meaning citizens at risk of breaking a law they didn't know existed.

Members of the Michigan House formed a working group earlier this year to reform the bloated number of criminal offenses. The group is co-chaired by Reps. Chris Afendoulis, R-Grand Rapids Township, and Kurt Heise, R-Plymouth.

Kudos to them.

Their mission in part is to identify outdated or unnecessary laws. For instance, one such law prohibits "indecent, immoral, obscene, vulgar or insulting language in the presence or hearing of a woman or child."

The working group is a good first step to bringing Michigan more in line with its neighboring states.

A study published last year by the Mackinac Center and Manhattan Institute found Michigan's criminal code is more than twice the size of Ohio's and Wisconsin's. The past six years, the state has added more than 45 new crimes to its code each year.

With 3,100 crimes in statute, lawmakers are right to slim the code.

But as the study contends, the Legislature should also pass a provision to clarify criminal intent as a requirement for committing a crime.