The Pathos of Politics (112-7) Asset Seizure

 Asset Seizure

Increasingly, the American justice system has come to rely on fines, fees, and forfeitures to fund law enforcement agencies rather than having to answer to elected officials for their budgets. ~ American attorney Scott Bullock

As a result of the distinct American legal regime, civil forfeiture has in recent decades become widespread and highly profitable. ~ Justice Clarence Thomas in Leonard v. Texas (2017)

All of this is fundamentally at odds with the US constitution. ~ American lawyer Brad Cates, former director of the Justice Department asset seizure program

American police are little more than uniformed gangs of thieving savages. Every year they illicitly steal well over a billion dollars of innocent peoples’ property. Because they are law enforcement, they get to keep the loot.

The widespread problem of lawlessness in law enforcement will become exacerbated under a system where police learn at the police academy how to clandestinely burglarize the premises of Americans. ~ American law professor Donald Wilkes Jr.

Under the pretext of thwarting the financing of illegal enterprise, American ‘law enforcement’ can seize any assets they can get their hands on from anyone they can get their hands on. Even innocent folks’ homes have been seized.

No conviction, or even arrest, is required. No evidence of illicit activity on the part of those looted is needed.

All that is necessary is a whim. If the police decide you deserve a legendary bad day that leaves you destitute, they can deliver it.

Forfeiture laws allow agents to seize property and hold it indefinitely without ever obtaining a court order, let alone holding a hearing. ~ American attorney Anya Bidwell

Civil forfeiture laws are inherently abusive. No just system would allow law enforcement to keep property for years without some kind of hearing before a judge. ~ American attorney Robert Everett Johnson

From 2007 through 2016, US governments’ theft of innocent’s assets – those not even charged with a crime – totaled ~$4 billion. The total take – including those charged (but not necessarily convicted) of a crime – was over $28 billion.

The federal government, which itself participates in capriciously stealing citizens’ property, does not monitor these seizures; nor do state governments. In most cases, asset seizures are made without any authorization or overview by the courts.

When seizure does not ultimately advance an investigation or prosecution, law enforcement creates the appearance, and risks the reality, that it is more interested in seizing and forfeiting cash than advancing an investigation or prosecution. ~ US Department of Justice in 2017

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On the road, American police practice highway robbery. Taking cash on hand during traffic stops is a popular police heist. This is organized crime at its easiest. There are continuing education seminars for local prosecutors and law enforcement officials on how to maximize the profits of their perfectly legal but morally reprehensible grand larceny.

Using asset forfeiture dollars to purchase equipment and training to stay current with the ever-changing trends in crime fighting helps serve and protect the citizens. ~ American police spokeswoman Julie Parker on the importance of being trendy

Seized assets, if not kept, are auctioned off, affording the police more resources to steal even more. There is no stopping them.

It’s a gold mine. ~ Las Cruces, New Mexico city attorney Harry Connelly in 2014 on the city’s asset-seizure program

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If not robbing cash on hand or bothering to loot residences, American police in many states hand out tickets for minor and imagined infractions like candy on Halloween. The victims are almost always in a minority group.

Louisiana runs an exemplary extortion racket. Roughly 2/3rds of state income comes from punitive court fees and fines, including traffic offenses. The Bayou state is not alone. The milking of poor communities by police and the courts has been a factor in civil unrest in cities around the country; Ferguson, Missouri in 2014 is but one recent instance.

With so many towns economically strapped, there is growing pressure on the courts to bring in money rather than mete out justice. ~ American lawyer Lisa Borden in 2012

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The police are not the only ones looting the citizenry. Federal tax authorities (the Internal Revenue Service (IRS)) can and do regularly pilfer the financial accounts of taxpayers. All that is required is suspicion of illegality – and the IRS is a very suspicious syndicate.

One woman who ran a cash-only restaurant in Iowa had her bank account emptied out by the IRS simply because she repeatedly deposited less than $10,000 at a time; an activity viewed by authorities as trying to avoid triggering required reporting to the government. This is a common ploy the IRS use to rip off small businesses, who cannot afford to legally fight back (especially after the theft).

They’re going after people who are really not criminals. They’re middle-class citizens who have never had any trouble with the law. ~ American attorney and former federal prosecutor David Smith on the IRS asset-seizure program

The 8th Amendment to the US constitution prohibits “excessive fines,” but the constitution means nothing to the oppressive government, which only play-acts at legality.

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Other countries, including Britain, Canada, and nations in the European Union, have legally sanctioned asset-seizure programs. Only a few of them require proven criminality on the part of those whose property has been taken. The EU directive on asset seizure allows confiscation without criminal conviction.