- Press accounts have exposed a pattern of police stops of out of state motorists in rural Tennessee, in which police search motorists’ cars and then confiscate large sums of money they find on the presumption that it is criminal-related. Now, in Henry, Tennessee — named after Patrick Henry, of “Give Me Liberty or Give Me Death” fame — the police chief has told the town he needs a police dog because “the city is missing out on possible revenues” [dog testimonials; more Tennessee, via Eapen Thampy of Americans for Forfeiture Reform, guestblogging last month at Radley Balko’s Agitator site]
- Also via Thampy, economically hard-hit Butte County, California, north of Sacramento, has been filling its budget hole through pot-grower busts accompanied by aggressive forfeitures; in a perhaps not unrelated phenomenon, the county snatches kids from parents at an exceedingly high rate. More on child protective services in Butte County at the Chico News & Review (& more: Angela Bacca, SKUNK).
- Via Ilya Somin, this from a Steven Greenhut column:
Few groups of “sinners” were singled out in biblical accounts more than “tax collectors,” who were not merely state agents collecting revenues that taxpayers rightfully owed to the government. They were the source of particular loathing because they were extortionists, who profited personally by shaking down as much money from citizens as possible…
The Gospel accounts provide an early lesson in the danger of marrying the profit motive with governmental power. The possibility for abuse is great. Yet throughout the United States, government agencies increasingly rely on “civil forfeiture” to bolster their strained budgets. The more assets these modern-day tax collectors seize, the more money they have for new equipment and other things….
- From reader John Brewer, on an Ohio gardening-equipment seizure: “Structurally, it seems even worse to have the judge who originally signed the search warrant have a say in what gets done with the confiscated stuff than it does for the cops/DA to get it, despite the cute-and-cuddly outcome here.”
- Tomorrow’s abuses today: the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms [BATF] has just been given a major enhancement to its forfeiture powers. [David Kopel/Volokh]
- For more information on this subject, check out the many online resources offered by the Cato Institute; Cato scholars took an early interest in exposing the problems of civil and criminal asset forfeiture, and our focus on the issue continues to this day. More: Scott Greenfield. (& Tim Lynch, PoliceMisconduct.net)