Tuesday, April 26, 2016
There is worthwhile
article at Vox about "civil forfeiture," of which I have
heard, but have not thought much about. Titled, "These States Let
Police Take and Keep Your Stuff Even if You Haven't Committed a
Crime," the piece states the following early on:
These states fully allow what's known as "civil forfeiture": Police officers can seize someone's property without proving the person was guilty of a crime; they just need probable cause to believe the assets are being used as part of criminal activity, typically drug trafficking.I am open to the idea that this controversial practice could be used, with much stricter limits, for legitimate ends, but it strikes me as an abuse of government power. Also, it hardly surprises me that even the most cursory search shows it to be (or have been) a major component of two things that definitely are abuses of government power: the "War on Drugs" and Prohibition.
Police can then absorb the value of this property -- be it cash, cars, guns, or something else -- as profit, either through state programs or under a federal program known as Equitable Sharing, which lets local and state police get up to 80 percent of the value of what they seize as money for their departments. [bold added]
Perhaps, because public opinion about the question of drug legalization is shifting, the time is ripe to examine this practice and reform it (if it is legitimate) or eliminate it altogether (if it is not).