Currently viewing the tag: "civil asset forfeiture"
We should take his guitar so we can be REALLY tough on crime!

We should take his guitar so we can be REALLY tough on crime!

Oh, hey, look at me over at The Daily Beast!

In which I try to talk to people who are overly focused on private prisons, but have the right idea of “something is wrong with the American prisons system.” There is a libertarian kicker at the end.

In the last few years, as a surprisingly bipartisan backlash against American over-criminalization has grown, many justice reformers have noticed, and rightfully critiqued, private prisons. The stalwart American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) is uncomfortable  with the idea of profiteering from mass incarceration and notes that the industry’s bread and butter is putting and keeping people behind bars. The Methodist and Presbyterian churches, and some Catholic dioceses, are starting to come out in opposition to the multibillion-dollar private prison industry. Liberal outlets like Think Progress and Alternet publish fearful exposes about these powerful, amoral corporations.

And they have good points, these upset people. They note how private prisonsheld 128,195 people back in December 2010. That’s only about 5.5 percent of the total population behind bars (including county jails); but that number shot up 37 percent between 2002 and 2009. Critics point to Corrections Corporation of America (CCA), the largest private prison corporation, which employs eight lobbyists and have waged multimillion-dollar efforts to influence laws and politics.

The rest here

Official video of the night is X playing two killer songs on David Letterman in 1983. I love me some “Los Angeles” abrasive punk, but this is a little more rock and roll. Hell, clearly this band is my destiny, since they started off with rough punk, and then just turned into a country band after a while.

They play “Hot House” — *makes cat purring sound at John Doe*. Then Exene is in such kick-ass form on “Breathless,” which is a Jerry Lee Lewis song. (The “ironic” punk cover thing works when it’s just a good cover of a song, by the way.)

As I mentioned somewhere on the internet, when I saw these crazy kids, it was an awesome show, but I wasn’t in the mood for the show until it was over. Since this is Pittsburgh, that could be years and years. (This explains why I have a major California itch right now, too. Along with beloved cousin lives there, and my yearning to hang out with Eric Garris and Justin Raimondo.) The crowd itself was impressively horrible, except for two solid rows of people who couldn’t be happier to be there. That, kids, is why concerts are the thing. I run the gamut of emotions (“from A to B”) at them each time. Love for humans, love for their complete joy in being there, and just a homicidal loathing for all the jerks who should have drank beer in their own homes.

I was also vaguely thinking as I watched the Letterman performance about how John Doe is hot, and Exene is such a bad-ass chick. And I wonder if there are any straight men in the world who, say if they aren’t musicians themselves, ever watch rock and roll ladies and want to be like them. Do they just want to do them instead? Do men admire women? Sometimes I think they don’t. Or, they might admire them, but they never want to be them the way I want to be a rock and roll dude (or a certain writer, or whomever). John Doe is attractive with his weird hillbilly punk vibe, but I would be just as happy to be that cool guy playing the bass as to lust after him. I don’t think men react that way to watching Exene. If men want to be women ever, they hide it pretty damn well.

There are women I find aspirational and bad-ass in the world, but there are a lot more men. I hate that a little. I mostly listen to men, I mostly read men. I am the self-aware version of the Jezebel commenter’s slur that goes, those girls who say they don’t get along with girls are the worst. Most of the time, I am more comfortable with men, and I have more to say to them. Neither going to lady college, nor admitting that I like some cute shit and laughing at Lifetime movies, and that I hate football, changed this fact. Yet, I still think men really do have a shameful inability to identify with women. They are the default, we are the other. Tiresome college feminism things have a few points now and again. Maybe I am thinking about that because I lately feel so turned off by feminism. (And yet, conservatives’ views on gender are so not going to happen for me. Gross. Everyone is so wrong and reactionary on this issue. Just like on every other issue, to be fair.)

Sweet fancy Moses, I am treating this professional(ish) blog like the secret Tumblr of my heart. I just…thought about this while watching X. You don’t have to. Just enjoy the rock and roll. I’ll be here being distracted from the police being the worst again.

policeCheck out the most recent Bad Cop Blotter:

On Friday, the district attorney’s office in Humboldt County, Nevada, agreed to return the $50,000 that had been seized from Tan Nguyen during a traffic stop on September 23, 2013. Nguyen had never been charged with a crime, much less convicted of anything—Humboldt County sheriff’s deputy Lee Dove pulled him over for allegedly going three miles over the speed limit, then searched his car without permission (though the cops claim consent was given) and found what Nguyen said was gambling winnings. The 37-year-old California resident’s luck clearly ran out when he was stopped by Dove, however, and according to his lawsuit, Nguyen was given a choice—give up his money or try to get home without his vehicle.

This wasn’t an isolated incident or a mistake on behalf of the cops. In a photo that the Humboldt County Sheriff’s Department put on Facebook (and has since deleted), Dove posed proudly with a police dog and the $50,000 he had seized. The officer, who is also accused of taking $13,800 and a handgun from another driver in a similarly flimsy traffic-stop scenario, is presumably feeling less puffed-up now. On Friday, the local district attorney’s office promised that that driver, Nguyen, and another person who had $2,400 taken, would get their cash back, and that forfeiture policy would be reevaluated.

Is it good that the DA is checking on these stories? Sure. Are these Nevada horror stories particularly surprising? Not if you know the bizarre state of asset-forfeiture laws.

The rest here

Rollerblade_444692_1510740According to a January 9 Wall Street Journal article, the legalization of marijuana in Washington and Colorado may mean that cops have less money to play with. When weed was illegal, police departments could cash in via civil asset forfeiture—they’d raid grow operations and dealers and seize cash and other kinds of property. Those seizures provided both a financial incentive to prioritize drug crimes and a financial perk for departments. Now, presumably, there will be fewer marijuana raids, thus less money for the cops. Washington state hasn’t earmarked any of the tax revenue soon to be coming in from the legal weed market to go to law enforcement, and Colorado may send some of their new dollars towards the cops, but not necessarily—in both states, millions of dollars normally spent on law enforcement may disappear as a consequence of the end of prohibition.

The specifics of forfeiture laws vary from state to state, but generally speaking police can take large amounts of cash (often anything over $10,000) from defendants based only on the suspicion that a big chunk of currency found during, say, a traffic stop, might be drug profits. It can also bechillingly easy for cops to take your property through asset forfeiture if a family member you live with is dealing drugs. The Department of Justice is generally very generous about sharing funds—as long as there’s tangential federal involvement in a case, the Feds take 20 percent of the assets forfeited and the rest goes to the local cops—so police departments are strongly encouraged to go after drug dealers; not only do they get photo ops with “dope on the table,” they can keep the majority of the profits from the sale of seized homes, vehicles, and property. (Not to mention that cash.) Often the onus is on the owner of the property to prove that it wasn’t involved in a crime, which can be an expensive and time-consuming endeavor.

The rest here