America’s Collapse: Asset Forfeiture | Uprootedpalestinians’s Blog
Asset forfeiture soon jumped beyond drug crimes to all crimes. A family lost their motel because a prostitute rented a room in which she conducted her business. The motel had unknowingly “faciliated a crime.” Asset forfeiture permits a person’s property to be confiscated even though the owner was not a participant in the crime and had no knowledge of the crime.
There have been vast numbers of innocent American tax-paying victims of police stealing their property under asset forfeiture law. Over the years I have reported cases, and Lawrence Stratton and I addressed police theft from the innocent public in The Tyranny of Good Intentions published in 2000 and a new edition in 2008. The injustice done to so many Americans is one cost of asset forfeiture laws. The criminalization of police departments is another cost.
Local TV stations in Tennessee, for example, have reported many instances of police from different local jurisdictions fighting over seizure rights on different stretches of Interstate 40. The police stop cars with out-of-state tags, search the cars and passengers, and if they find cash in the amount of $100 or greater the police confiscate it on the grounds that the amount indicates the selling of drugs or the intended purchase of drugs. On other pretexts the police seize the cars leaving the family on foot in a strange land.
In The Tyranny of Good Intentions, Larry Stratton and I tell the story of Selena Washington who was stopped on I-95 in Florida on her way to purchase construction materials to repair her hurricane-damaged home. She doubted the building materials company would accept a large check from a black woman and had with her the insurance settlement of $19,000 in cash. Police had set up roadblocks in order to rob people and confiscated her money without even taking her name. With the aid of an attorney and proof of insurance settlement, she was able to recover $15,000 or 79% of her money. To get her money back, she had to agree that the police could keep $4,000. I don’t know what the attorney’s fees were. Most likely, the bandit police prevented the full restoration of her home, just as when the police steal a person’s car they prevent the person from going to work and earning a living. Is the person still responsible for car payments when their car is stolen by police?