by Roger Koppl
That’s the headline in the Journal Gazette of Fort Wayne: No charges, but police keep the cash. (HT Michelle Thomas.) Yep, property seizures do not require that the persons from whom the property was seized be actually, you know, like guilty of a crime or anything. The police found $26,000 cash in a traffic stop. No charges beyond the speeding ticket, but they kept the cash. The Journal Gazette reports, “Having that much cash is not a crime, but police have the right to seize it if they suspect it has been used or procured through criminal means. Most of the money seized comes from drug cases and can then be used by various law enforcement agencies.” The head of the vice unit of the local Sheriff’s office explains matter-of-factly, “If it’s way, way over and above what a normal person will carry, and if things don’t add up (on how it was acquired), we take the money.” Explain yourself! And if we don’t like your explanation, we get to keep the money.
Don Boudreaux and A. C. Pritchard were railing against the evils of civil-forfeiture laws over a decade ago. (Donald J. Boudreaux & A.C. Pritchard, Civil Forfeiture and the War on Drugs: Lessons from Economics and History, 33 SAN DIEGO L. REV. 79 (1996). See also their “report” found here.) Such forfeitures are an unambiguous evil brought on, like no-knock warrants, by the “war on drugs.”
Liberals have always recognized that real shootin’ wars are not only a great evil in themselves, but a dire threat to domestic liberty. The war on drugs has become a real shootin’ war. It is a great evil in itself and a dire threat to domestic liberty.