The rise in civil forfeiture’s, or the confiscating (stealing) of private money simply because law enforcement believes a person is guilty without proof, and where any cash and property in their possession is assumed to have been used illegally despite no crime ever being committed, has been a boon to the coffers and budgets of police agencies all across the country. But with public revelations of this un-Constitutional act leading some cities and states to pass laws ending this practice, some law enforcement agencies in New Mexico are crying unfair.
Civil rights activists hailed New Mexico’s ban on civil asset forfeiture, the notorious practice of police seizing property from suspects not convicted of any crime. Some cops worry the reform will hurt the war on drugs – and their bottom line.
The new law took effect on July 1. Known as HB 560, it prohibits police from seizing a suspect’s property without proof that a crime was committed. If and when they do seize property legitimately, the cops won’t be able to keep the profits: all proceeds from auctioning off the forfeited goods now have to go to the state government in Santa Fe.
Agents of the Region II Narcotics Task Force, a multi-agency team operating out of the city of Farmington, are worried the reform will cut into their operating expenses. Approximately a quarter of their $100,000 annual budget was funded through sales of seized property, Task Force director, Sgt. Kyle Dowdy, told the Farmington Daily Times. – Russia Today
Civil forfeiture is a program passed at the Federal level where law enforcement agencies can un-Constitutionally seize private property if they think that it was garnered illegally, and hold it without a charge to the individual or business until the original owners prove that their property was legitimate and unlawfully seized. This alone goes against the Constitutional standing in a court of law where a person or entity is assumed innocent until proven guilty.
But as more civil forfeiture has occurred, increasing police budgets around the country, much has been made of the fact that the money has only partially been spent on actual police business, and instead has been used to throw parties, buy unnecessary items, and even funneled into other agencies such as that of the District Attorney.
This of course makes it impossible to have a fair hearing to try to get your money back, as the D.A. and the police have no incentive to return to you your rightful funds as they have in many cases already spent it.
Civil forfeiture has no true legal foundation, but is a result of the ideological ‘War on Drugs’ that the Federal and local governments have used to create fear and control over citizens within the United States. And since laws are now being written to benefit the State rather than protect the people, it is not surprising that police agencies, especially those in the state of New Mexico, would get upset if you wanted to keep your own property for yourself when they feel it could be used for a much better cause, such as buying a new sports car for the precinct.
Kenneth Schortgen Jr is a writer for Secretsofthefed.com, Examiner.com, Roguemoney.net, and To the Death Media, and hosts the popular web blog, The Daily Economist. Ken can also be heard Wednesday afternoons giving an weekly economic report on the Angel Clark radio show.