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Discussion in 'Too Hot for Swamp Gas' started by philnotfil, Aug 5, 2013.
A long article, but worth reading.
Kudos for posting another great piece to chew over, phil.
Off the top of my head, there is so much wrong with civil asset forfeitures, even if in some cases might be the right thing.
No doubt that profit motive is central.
War on drugs--heck with just going after the king pins, lets take whatever crap the poor have too. Happens all the time, often locales won't even sell items, they just junk it.
Or how about traffic cams. Sure, officials will say it improves safety. But that's secondary (really). It's about collecting money in fines without having have an officer actually catch someone in their car breaking a traffic law.
Ok, gotta hit the rack. Will read the whole thing tomorrow.
WOW, this was failed from it's start to allow this money to go to the police. There a many good caused this money can feed.
This needs to change and change immediately. Police departments should not (through they are) be revenue generators.
I can see both sides of this issue and some tweaking needs to be done. For example; if a major bust occurs which results in financial losses to the different law enforcement agencies; wrecked cars, shoot out damage, personal injuries requiring medical attention; basically just direct related expenses. Those expenses can and should be reimbursed by the sale of the confiscated items.
Excess funds show go to the penal system which has to pay the costs of housing all of the convicted felons. With changes such as these, the profit motive is gone.
Two tweaks to fix the problem. The cops can't have the money until they have a conviction (it amazes me that only one state currently requires this, in a country that proclaims innocent until proven guilty). The money can only be a certain percent of their budget (the state did this to Waldo, and traffic citations went way down).
There's quite a bit of variation by state and even jurisdiction on how the money can be used. In some places, police depts don't get the money, it goes to a general fund. For one state police dept I know, state law requires any asset forfeitures to be used only for education and training and the money isn't controlled by the state police.
But there is more to this too. Under current norms as a result of the war on drugs, folks in many places simply have a hard time getting back any assets that might have been seized. Some police departments have made it really tough. And on top of that, forget if your car was seized and held for a few years as your case plays out.
You raise a great point about Waldo; but that only came after a lot of pressure from outside groups (AAA) and really negative media exposure regarding their traffic ticket practices.
Which reminds me. I was in Gville when these were first put up.
Radley Balko has written extensively about this;