For­fei­tures’ dis­grace

Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette - - VOICES -

The let­ter by Ran­dall Ward con­cern­ing for­fei­tures by gov­ern­ment bod­ies is right on. I believe Barack Obama was the great­est abuser of this prac­tice, but I note that our new at­tor­ney gen­eral also likes it.

It has been abused by law enforcement at ev­ery level for decades. We will never know just how much money and prop­erty has been taken from peo­ple whose only crime was hav­ing more money on their per­son than the po­lice think proper. Many of these “tak­ings” were sim­ply le­gal­ized theft. One of the side ben­e­fits for gov­ern­ment bod­ies, usu­ally law enforcement peo­ple, is that some, all, or most of what is taken ends up in the cof­fers of the ar­rest­ing po­lice agency or some other gov­ern­ment of­fice.

We will never know how much money is sim­ply taken from cit­i­zens and non-cit­i­zens alike, and the money just dis­ap­pears. Just hav­ing an amount of cash on your per­son that the ar­rest­ing agent thinks is sus­pi­cious gives them a rea­son to sim­ply im­pound it and put the owner through months and years of lit­i­ga­tion just to re­cover their own prop­erty.

The first re­form should be that what­ever is taken from any­one, whether money or prop­erty, can­not be used by any of­fi­cial agency, fed­eral, state, county, or city; and next, to re­quire that all such tak­ings be au­tho­rized only after a pub­lic trial.

Mr. Ward is to be com­mended for bring­ing this of­fi­cial shake­down to the at­ten­tion of the pub­lic and, hope­fully, the pub­lic will de­mand that any and all seizures be made pub­lic. This is in part one of the English prac­tices that prompted our founders to de­cide to break away from Eng­land. Dis­grace­ful! WAL­TER SKEL­TON Lit­tle Rock

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