For­fei­ture law a farce

Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette - - VOICES -

It is un­for­tu­nate that Jeff Ses­sions is di­rect­ing law en­force­ment to in­crease civil for­fei­ture. I be­lieve for Ses­sions, who is sworn to up­hold the Con­sti­tu­tion, to ad­vo­cate a prac­tice that is di­rectly in vi­o­la­tion of the tak­ing clause of the Fifth Amend­ment is a travesty, and an in­sult to the Amer­i­can peo­ple.

Al­most 90 per­cent of the peo­ple whose as­sets are taken are never charged with a crime, let alone con­victed, yet their prop­erty is taken from them with­out any hear­ing. It’s re­ported that the Feds take more prop­erty than is lost in all bur­glar­ies in the United States, and thus are big­ger thieves than the ac­tual thieves.

This is not about drug en­force­ment, it’s about rais­ing rev­enue, most of­ten on the backs of in­no­cent peo­ple who can­not af­ford to lose their as­sets, and can­not af­ford to mount a chal­lenge to get their prop­erty re­turned since the le­gal costs of do­ing so in many cases ex­ceed the value of the prop­erty con­fis­cated.

No one wants to see crim­i­nals profit from their ill-got­ten gains. But if as­sets are to be taken, it needs to be only af­ter a crim­i­nal con­vic­tion, where due process has taken place. Oth­er­wise, this al­ready un­con­sti­tu­tional prac­tice should be banned out­right.

THOMAS A. BECK­ETT Siloam Springs

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