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Policing For Profit Is A Nationwide Epidemic


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US FL: OPED: Policing For Profit Is A Nationwide Epidemic

 

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URL: http://www.mapinc.org/drugnews/v13/n514/a08.html

Newshawk: http://www.drugsense.org/donate.htm

Votes: 0

Pubdate: Mon, 21 Oct 2013

Source: Sun-Sentinel (Fort Lauderdale, FL)

Copyright: 2013 Sun-Sentinel Company

Contact: http://drugsense.org/url/mVLAxQfA

Website: http://www.sun-sentinel.com/

Details: http://www.mapinc.org/media/159

Author: Justin Pearson

Page: 12A

Note: Justin Pearson is the executive director of the Institute for

Justice Florida Chapter and is one of the attorneys who represented

Tony Jalali in his fight to save his family's property from civil

forfeiture.

 

POLICING FOR PROFIT IS A NATIONWIDE EPIDEMIC

 

Over $4 billion - that is the amount seized by the government using forfeiture laws - in 2012 alone.  And the government often seizes money and property from people it knows have done nothing wrong.

 

Here in South Florida, the Bal Harbour police got so carried away that the Department of Justice shut them down.  The police did little actual crime-fighting, but seized properties in over a half-dozen states and spent the proceeds on first-class flights, luxury hotels, fancy restaurants, flat-screen TVs and a $ 21,000 beach party.

 

Civil forfeiture is when the government takes your cash, home or property even though you have never been accused or charged with any crime.  To get your property back, the burden is on you to prove in court that your property is innocent, resulting in bizarre case names like United States v.  One Solid Gold Object in the Form of a Rooster.

 

Even worse, the proceeds of these seized properties usually go straight to the budgets of the agencies who took them.  These perverse incentives lead police around the nation to focus more on seizing property than fighting crime.

 

Russ Caswell has never been charged with or even accused of any crime, but the government attempted to seize his family's mortgage-free motel in Tewksbury, Mass.  because about15 customers had been arrested for drug crimes over a 14- year period.  This was no higher than neighboring properties, but those properties either had mortgages or were part of large chains.

 

The property, valued at over $ 1 million, was the one the government wanted.  The Institute for Justice was able to help Russ fight back and win.

 

Tony Jalali owns a small office building in Anaheim, Calif., and has never been charged with or convicted of a crime.

 

After California legalized medical marijuana dispensaries, Tony rented space to two dispensaries.  As soon as the federal government notified him that it still considered the dispensaries to be illegal, Tony kicked the last dispensary out.

 

The government still tried to take his $ 1.5 million, mortgage-free property.  IJ defended Tony's building from the government's grasp, but most owners aren't so lucky.  As long as the police are allowed to profit from taking your property, this nationwide problem will only get worse.  No one in America should lose their property without being convicted of a crime.  Civil forfeiture needs to be outlawed in its entirety. 

MAP posted-by: Matt

 

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