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Wednesday, April 14, 2010

When law enforcement legally steals from people

It's bothered me for years that in the name of the "war on drugs" that some (emphasis on that) law enforcement agencies have engaged in what can only be described as theft of property from many innocent people. Chances are good that's going to continue to get worse as agencies are faced with budget crunches (along with the trend of hiring more and more individuals who have no business wearing a badge to begin with).

The Kingsport Times-News has an article on its website about "How police profit by seizing private property"...

Police and prosecutors’ offices seize private property—often without ever charging the owners with a crime — then keep or sell what they’ve taken and use the profits to fund their budgets. And considering law enforcement officials in most states don’t report the value of what they collect or how that bounty is spent, the issue raises serious questions about both government transparency and accountability.

Under state and federal civil asset forfeiture laws, law enforcement agencies can seize and keep property suspected of involvement in criminal activity. Unlike criminal asset forfeiture, however, with civil forfeiture, a property owner need not be found guilty of a crime—or even charged—to permanently lose her cash, car, home or other property.

According to the Institute for Justice civil asset forfeiture is one of the worst abuses of property rights today. The Institute has released a national study on civil forfeiture abuse. The report—Policing for Profit: The Abuse of Civil Asset Forfeiture - is the most comprehensive national study to examine the use and abuse of civil asset forfeiture and the first study to grade the civil forfeiture laws of all 50 states and the federal government. The report finds that by giving law enforcement a direct financial incentive in pursuing forfeitures and stacking the legal deck against property owners, most state and federal laws encourage policing for profit rather than seeking the neutral administration of justice.

This is one of the biggest reasons why I've come to be against the "war on drugs", and now the "war on terror". When government can declare a cause against something and demand all possible power and authority to wield against it, it is inevitable that the rights and liberties of individuals will suffer. And there's very rarely any going back.


Larry said...

That's why I just love people who say
"Well, if you aren't doing anything wrong you don't have anything to worry about!"