Welfare Amnesty in Rockland County

Robert Magee, Staff Writer, RMagee@albanylaw.edu    

      This past summer, Rockland County announced a welfare amnesty program which enables so-called “welfare cheats” to, upon voluntary confession, escape prosecution by agreeing to pay back the balance of the amount they had stolen.1  The proclamation came upon the heels of an announcement that the county had caught forty-three such cheaters red-handed, to the tune of $318,000 of stolen welfare funds.2

     As a matter of public policy, amnesty programs bear a dubious history.  In 1919 the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) announced an amnesty program for tax-cheaters, allowing them to duck criminal liability upon confession.3  The program was never publicized and after running for a mere three months, the IRS announced reservation of their right to prosecute, even upon confession.4  Few stepped forward. On the other hand, in 1993 the Anti-Trust Division of the Department of Justice established an amnesty program as part of its efforts to curb cartel activity. This amnesty program allowed firms, who were involved in cartel activity, to step forward and escape criminal liability for all of its individual members, but only if it was the first firm to report that cartel organization.5 Additionally, the program allowed firms to escape all liability if no investigation was yet underway.6  Amnesty applications increased twenty-four fold.7

     Amnesty programs also skate on the very thin ice of our confused justifications for criminal law. While they fall squarely in the crime prevention camp, they do nothing to satiate the appetites of the moral/social condemnation or objective morality crowds.8 Continue reading “Welfare Amnesty in Rockland County”

Panel 3: Constitutional Theories of RLUIPA

Eric Schillinger, Staff Writer, ESchilling@albanylaw.edu & Daniel Katz, Staff Writer, DKatz@albanylaw.edu    

     We’re back live in the Dean Alexander Moot Court Room for the third panel of the Albany Government Law Review’s Symposium – God and the Land.1  The final panel of the day focused on the constitutional issues surrounding RLUIPA and the interaction of land use and religion.2  Four speakers made up the third panel, land use attorney Wendie L. Kellington,3 the former chief referee of Former Chief Referee for Oregon Land Use Board of Appeals and presently a member of the faculty at Puget Sound Law School.  Elizabeth Reilly,4 dean of the University of Akron School of Law, is our second speaker.  Following Ms. Reilly was Leslie Griffin,5 Larry and Joanne Doherty Chair of Legal Ethics at U of Houston Law Center.  Last to speak was Frederick Gedicks,6 Guy Anderson Chair at the Bingham Young School of Law.

     Wendie Kellington began her discussion with an examination of how discrimination in land use proceedings is rarely overt.  Providing a historical background, Ms. Kellington argued that the revolutionary passions that made up the world of eighteenth century America were key to the development of the free exercise clause.  She argued that during the revolution, American colonists wanted  to overthrow all hereditary forms of government, create a government of laws and not of men, and develop a republican system of government that could protect the governed and grow with time.  She stated that the key to the free exercise clause’s development relied on this revolutionary spirit, and that in today’s society, where the passionate struggle for revolution in government is long over, American society lacks the tenacity it once had in this realm. Continue reading “Panel 3: Constitutional Theories of RLUIPA”