Civil Forfeiture: America's daylight robbery, courtesy of the War on Drugs


#1

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#2

I read this story yesterday, and it absolutely made my blood boil. How in the world is seizing people's property without them being found guilty of anything living up to "innocent until proven guilty". I understand seizing evidence, but you generally do not get to spend money seized in evidence. This is just gangsterism, pure and simple.


#3

Heh, the original article on the new yorker states it's from Aug 12th, 2013, quite the feat! Honestly though, well written and infuriating.


#4

Governmental organized crime is what it sounds like to me. In other words, it is stealing.


#5

I believe it was Bruce Sterling's 'Distraction' in which a local Military Base put up a roadblock ostensibly as a "Bake Sale" in which you "bought" incredibly overpriced baked goods under the threat of force to shore up budget shortfalls. I never thought I would see it leap from the page and come to life however.


#6

The most offensive part is using the ill-gotten gains to buy a freakin' popcorn machine. So this criminal enterprise thinks it's too good for hookers and coke?


#7

The awful thing is that this isn't news, and shouldn't be to anyone. This has been going on since the 1980s, it got bad enough in California that their law was repealed in the early 1990s. Essentially, they claim the property committed the crime, and since stuff, unlike people or corporations, has no rights, they can just take it, and it is up to you to prove you didn't get it via drug sales. Yes, it's insane.


#8

But if they buy coke then they could seize their own assets, and barbers wouldn't be able to shave themselves, cats and dogs would be living together- it would be awful.


#9

And on the actually-important-people side of the table, we simultaneously have a cottage industry of 'Regulatory Takings' litigation to the effect that things like environmental regulation are a violation of 5th amendment rights against seizure of property without due compensation...

The fact that civil asset forfeiture hasn't received an utterly brutal 5th amendment smackdown whenever it rears its head suggests rather a lot about who it is usually used against, and the lawyers they generally don't have (in addition to 'Drugs!' being one of the backdoor passwords to the constitution, naturally).


#10
“It’s the Guantánamo Bay of the legal system.”

This quote from the article made my head want to explode with the might, rage, fury, and hatred of a thousand supermassive stars dying at once in the same thimbleful of water.

WHAT THE ACTUAL FUCK?! I don't even know where to start with this. The fact that there is a Guantanamo in the first place is injustice enough- now we get to compare the crimes of our civil peace officers to the injustices, not of the Gestapo, or even Stalin's secret police. No, now our standard for moral black holes of misery, sorrow, and the shorthand for man's inhumanity to man is us.

I am staggeringly incapable of beginning to form the seed of the start of a notion of what can be done about all of this incomprehensibly infuriating FUCK.


#11

No need to be such an optimist, Abe. 'Gitmo' is the symbol of our capricious inhumanity not committed mostly in secret. We still have the entire archipelago of 'black sites' and friendly 3rd-party torture dungeons that don't even have names, much less the ridiculous pretense of 'process' that we practice at Guantanamo...


#12

Banditry is the traditional means of funding the local band of armed men.


#13

This has been making my blood boil since the '80s. It's absolutely incomprehensible to me that a practice so blatantly and egregiously unconstitutional could have survived for so long. How on Earth has this been allowed to continue?
I can't read articles like this without having "Robin Hood" fantasies of absconding with all the funds of every police force, DA's office and all the personal assets of the individuals who have been engaging in these "legal" thefts, and turning it all over to the victims. Ideally that would be followed up by jail time for the police and DAs involved, but that scenario is too unrealistic for even my unrealistic fantasy.


#14

I read this article with some kind of hope that it would end with the abusers losing their jobs and the people whose property was stolen having the property returned. Sadly it looks like business as usual. I can't believe that the plaintiffs were essentially told "We took your property without cause, but you're not getting it back".


#15

I thought I was familiar with these laws. I didn't know to what extent they were being used, such as the gold cross.


#16

According to the Wikipedia article on Tenaha, TX, a settlement was reached in 2012 with the ACLU where the police now have rigorous rules they have to follow. It is still head-explodingly shocking, but at least it's not still going on (at least in that one city). This article explains the history a littl: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/03/22/tennessee-asset-forfeiture_n_2933246.html


#17

Also, in 2008, Shelby County District Attorney Lynda K. Russell sought to use the funds forfeited to

fund her defense

this after both the state and county "abandoned her".
The Texas D.A. issued an opinion that she couldn't use the surrendered funds to defend herself.
Thank God there's an ACLU.


#18

I was around when RICO was being debated. There were concerns about overly broad wording but the feds said trust us. It will only ever be used against organized crime.

This is the reason I feel Barry blowing smoke up my ass every time he says trust us; surveillance will only ever be used against the turrists.


#19

This is also touched on in the Susan Sarandon narrated documentary "How To Make Money Selling Drugs"

Long story short, there's no money to be made ending the war on drugs but an awful lot to be had fighting it.


#20

That may be the issue’s cover date, which is often in the future. Lots of magazines do that, not sure why. When I was a kid comic books had cover dates that were months after their shipping dates.