Tuesday, November 17, 2015

A damning statistic about Big Brother

We've spoken before in these pages about asset forfeiture - the seizure by police and prosecutors of assets allegedly derived directly or indirectly from crime.  It's of growing concern as it becomes a normal, routine fund-raising procedure by law enforcement authorities.

The problem has now grown so great as to dwarf crime itself.  Zero Hedge reports:

Between 1989 and 2010, U.S. attorneys seized an estimated $12.6 billion in asset forfeiture cases. The growth rate during that time averaged +19.4% annually.

In 2010 alone, the value of assets seized grew by +52.8% from 2009 and was six times greater than the total for 1989.

Then by 2014, that number had ballooned to roughly $4.5 billion for the year, making this 35% of the entire number of assets collected from 1989 to 2010 in a single year.

Now, according to the FBI, the total amount of goods stolen by criminals in 2014 burglary offenses suffered an estimated $3.9 billion in property losses. This means that the police are now taking more assets than the criminals.

The police have been violating the laws to confiscate assets all over the country. A scathing report on California warns of pervasive abuse by police to rob the people without proving that any crime occurred. Even Eric Holder came out in January suggesting reform because of the widespread abuse of the civil asset forfeiture laws by police.

Bloomberg News has reported now that Stop-and-Seize authority is turning the Police Into Self-Funding Gangs. They are simply confiscating money all under the abuse of this civil asset forfeiture where they do not have to prove you did anything.

There's more at the link.  The linked article at Bloomberg is particularly worrying.

The situation has reached crisis point when one seriously has to question whether to drive through certain law enforcement or prosecutorial jurisdictions, for fear that one's perfectly legal and legitimate cash and valuables might be at risk from the authorities.  However, despite all the concern expressed in the media, it seems authorities are carrying on with the same old, same old.  Money talks . . . and they've found what is, for them, a very lucrative source of money.  Their political masters let them get away with it for the simple reason that if they fund their operations (and, dare one suggest, a little political largesse?) from this source, it's less necessary to raise taxes - thus ensuring that the politicians get re-elected with greater ease.

What was that about 'No Taxation Without Representation' again?



B5K said...

I must work in the wrong state. I can't think of anyone in my department who's ever made a seizure (well, one that didn't come along with serious weight in narcotics). I do know there's a policy about it, and it specifically states seizure sans arrest/charging is strongly not recommended and may lead to criminal prosecution of an officer (it's happened locally), and further delineates the re-distribution of seized assets (90% to the state's general fund, with the remaining 10% back to the originating department after a 365-day wait period/evidence clearance).

Maybe some Podunk places in other states fund their PDs from BS seizures (my opinion), but here in Lib-Land it's a non-starter. Unless some supernarc team is using seizure to try and cripple a Cartel, us street cops simply have better things to worry about. One of our grave shifters had the local Thug Life contingent put 7 rounds into his car while he was on a DV call. No injuries except to the teddy bear he keeps (kept?) on the passenger seat for kid victims.

SiGraybeard said...

B5K - It sounds like you're working in a good department, but it ends up that Lib-Land is certainly not exempt. Massachusetts has had a few famous cases. Read about the Motel Caswell for one story; the government sued a street address to wipe out the life savings of an older couple. Because they think about .001% of the time, someone renting a room used it for illicit purposes - with not even a hint that the owners knew about or had anything to do with it.

Not strictly the same thing, but the same approach, California has gone after people for income taxes when they didn't live in the state at all during the year, and the state has just taken the money from their accounts. See this story. Google "Gilbert Hyatt FTB" for a fun story of California trying to steal from this guy for an invention he conceived of after he had moved out of California and into Nevada. He won almost $400 Million from the state.

unix-jedi said...

Relative was elected to a few offices.

One day, there's a bill to add a new fee or permit or something to (I forget) hunting or fishing. (Sake of argument, call it a parking permit for a boat ramp or something.)

Relative adds an amendment that none of the funds raised could go to LE, but would be earmarked for the areas and improvement the permit/fee was levied on.

Next day, relative gets to the office, and is met by three men in suit outside the door. They ask for some time, and very respectfully introduce themselves as representatives of the agencies and lay out the funding issues they're having and why they need some of this fee (which could arguably extend to the area being taxes/permitted.)

Relative changed his amendment, allowing up to 15% to be assigned to LE in that area, for enforcement in that space, or something.

Said "They had a really good set of points, and came with a lot of data. But if you don't put some limits on there, LE ends up with all the money."

Anonymous said...

Some years back I worked for an LE agency whose elected head bragged to the citizens how much stuff he had bought with asset forfeiture funds, pointng out that the stuff was "free" because no taxpayer money had been involved. I've since retired, and so has he, but AFAIK the practice lives on. Sherrif Bob Vogel in Volusia County, FL (Daytona) was notorious in the '90s for "Roadside Recoveries" - asset forfeiture along the I-95 corridor.

Since the 5th Amendment no longer works to prevent it, perhaps we need a new amendment protecting the rights of the citizens against government, one which establishes no forfeiture without completion of due process, including appeals, and ensuring all forfeitures go the the general fund with not a dime to any LE agency.

Then again, with courts complicit in the forfeiture process there's no mechanism to enforce citizens' protections under any amendment. Except, perhaps, that one regularly ignored.

Anonymous said...

Had a drug task force conduct a botched/unlawful raid against a property where I had a vehicle stored. When I contacted the TF commander so I could retrieve my property he played dumb and said he had no idea what I was talking about. Turns out he swore in the warrant that the vehicle belonged to the owner of the property and it was to be seized even though it had my plates and was registered to me. Every time I talked to the TF I was lied to while they were attempting to steal my vehicle. Once I started digging and found out first hand how corrupt and out of control these agencies were I was truly afraid of them and feared for my life. I thought the kind of corruption and lawlessness I learned about was the stuff of movies and novels. Nope. Small town middle America thanks to the drug war. It's orders of magnitude worse than you can imagine.

Chuck Pergiel said...

How is it that this practice continues at all? Why haven't the courts put a stop to it? Surely there have been lawsuits.

Will said...

Chuck, the fact that it is unconstitutional doesn't matter to the courts. They have announced that it is legal, due to laws written by various legislatures. That's good enough for them. They seem to be cheerleaders for this sort of thing.