Monday, December 8, 2014

Fighting Contraband, Upholding Civil Liberties

"Let him who stole steal no longer, but rather let him labor, working with his hands what is good, that he may have something to give him who has need. "
Ephesians 4:28

Texas State Capitol -- This afternoon, we attendend TPPF's event Civil Asset Forfeiture Reform in Texas: Fighting Contraband, Upholding Civil Liberties.  The event covered the perverse incentives behind the ongoing civil asset forfeiture crisis in Texas and also discussed remedies.  The event was also notable for the arrogance shown be the law enforcement representative, who argued that we should be thankful to them for reducing crime over the past 20 years and who cares about the collateral damage of innocent citizens having their property confiscated:U

The law enforcement rep spoke during this section:


Andrew Kloster, Heritage:
  • Civil Asset forfeiture originally intended for drug busts
  • New Yorker Article: Taken
    • East Texas cops threatened to legally kidnap a couple's children unless they signed over $6000 to them.
  • When you have all your money taken, you can't hire a lawyer.
  • Law enforcement is the biggest lobbyist for the status quo.
  • Fund law enforcement via standard budget appropriations.
  • Not difficult to find victim stories.
  • Federal Reform WILL come up next year.
Matt Miller, Institute for Justice:
  • Forfeiture is big, it's a problem, and it's something you can do something about.
  • Civil asset forefiture is usually used to take small amounts of property from average Texans.
    • ie. Not enough to make it worthwhile to hire a lawyer
      • Would you hire a lawyer for $3000 to recover $850 worth of property
      • That doesn't make Cops seizing $850 worth of property right,
  • Cops ask people if they're carrying cash during traffic stops.
  • You can still have criminal forfeiture without civil forfeiture.
  • What we can do in TX
    • Eliminate Civil Forefiture
    • Require someone to be convicted before forfeiture.
    • Eliminate Policing for Profit -- Have $$$ go to general funds instead of being earmarked for law enforcement or DA's.
    • Stronger protections for innocent property owners.
    • Better reporting.
  • Whatever we do at the state level, often local law enforcement can circumvent it and go directly to the Feds.
Shannon Edmonds, Law Enforcement Representative:
  • "The Fence Rule" - Before you take down a fence, make sure you know why they put it up in the first place.
  • People only care because crime is down.
  • Rise of libertarianism has made this a bigger issue on the right.
  • The man said NOTHING about private property rights during his presentation.
  • "Just because someone abuses something doesn't mean it's bad."
    • Author's note: That statement would mean A LOT more if the person saying it had offered any concrete proposals for scaling back this authority; he didn't. 
David Simpson:
  • Civil asset forfeiture "may have had a kernel of sense when first conceived."
  • The propensity of government is to overstep it's bounds.
  • At a minimum, needs a warrant and due process.
  • "The taking of assets from citizens shouldn't be easier than conviction for a crime."
  • Presumption of innocence in CAF cases.

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