Policing For Profit: How Civil Asset Forfeiture Has Perverted American Law Enforcement

Picture this: You’re driving home from the casino and you’ve absolutely cleaned up – to the tune of $50,000. You see a police car pull up behind you, but you can’t figure out why. Not only have you not broken any laws, you’re not even speeding. But the police officer doesn’t appear to be interested in charging you with a crime. Instead, he takes your gambling winnings, warns you not to say anything to anyone unless you want to be charged as a drug kingpin, then drives off into the sunset.

This actually happened to Tan Nguyen, and his story is far from unique. It’s called civil asset forfeiture and it’s a multi-billion dollar piggybank for state, local and federal police departments to fund all sorts of pet projects.

With its origins in the British fight against piracy on the open seas, civil asset forfeiture is nothing new. During Prohibition, police officers often seized goods, cash and equipment from bootleggers in a similar manner to today. However, contemporary civil asset forfeiture begins right where you’d think that it would: The War on Drugs.

In 1986, as First Lady Nancy Reagan encouraged America’s youth to “Just Say No,” the Justice Department started the Asset Forfeiture Fund. This sparked a boom in civil asset forfeiture that’s now become self-reinforcing, as the criminalization of American life and asset forfeiture have continued to feed each other.

In sum, asset forfeiture creates a motivation to draft more laws by the legislature, while more laws create greater opportunities for seizure by law enforcement. This perverse incentive structure is having devastating consequences: In 2014 alone, law enforcement took more stuff from American citizens than burglars did.

The current state of civil asset forfeiture in the United States is one of almost naked tyranny. Don’t believe us?

Continue reading Policing For Profit: How Civil Asset Forfeiture Has Perverted American Law Enforcement at Ammo.com.

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Locked Up: How the Modern Prison-Industrial Complex Puts So Many Americans in Jail

 

Where you find the laws most numerous, there you will find also the greatest injustice.

There’s no two ways about it: The United States of America and its 50 state governments love putting people in prison.

The U.S. has both the highest number of prisoners and the highest per capita incarceration rate in the modern world at 655 adults per 100,000. (It’s worth noting that China’s incarceration statistics are dubious, and they execute far more people than the United States. Indeed, the so-called People’s Republic executes more people annually than the rest of the world combined.)  Still, that’s more than 2.2 million Americans in state and federal prisons as well as county jails.

On top of those currently serving time, 4.7 million Americans were on parole in 2016, or about one in 56. These numbers do not include people on probation, which raises the number to one in 35. Nor does it include all of the Americans who have been arrested at one time or another, which is over 70 million – more than the population of France.

For firearm owners in particular, the growth in this “prison-industrial complex” is troubling because felons are forbidden from owning firearms and ammunition under the 1968 Gun Control Act. As the number of laws has grown and the cultural shift for police has gone from a focus on keeping the peace to enforcing the law, more and more Americans are being stripped of their 2nd Amendment rights (not to mention other civil rights like voting– as of 2017, 6.1 million Americans cannot vote because of their criminal records). All told, eight percent of all Americans cannot own firearms because of a felony conviction.

For American society as a whole, the prison-industrial complex has created a perverse incentive structure. Bad laws drive out respect for good laws because there are just so many laws (not to mention rules, regulations, and other prohibitions used by federal prosecutors to pin crimes on just about anyone). How did we get here?

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Two Cheers for Denver: Let’s End the War on Unapproved States of Consciousness

On May 7, voters in Denver, Colorado narrowly approved a measure de-criminalizing “magic mushrooms” — mushrooms containing the consciousness-altering compound psilocybin. The measure, National Public Radio reports, “effectively bars the city from prosecuting or arresting adults 21 or older who possess them. In the ballot language, adults can even grow the fungus for personal use and be considered a low priority for Denver police.”

Those are both great things. A third great thing would have been an order to Denver’s police to simply ignore “magic mushrooms” altogether, effectively legalizing sale of the fungi as well (assuming there would be much of a market for something that’s easily found “in the wild,” growing on everything from rotting wood to cow patties) . But hey, two out of three ain’t bad. Yay, Denver.

The political justification for this measure (and others like it pending in other polities) is the growing evidence that psilocybin can be useful in treating depression, anxiety, and migraines. How many have needlessly suffered due to the research delays caused by its illegalization?

The practical justification for complete legalization of psilocybin (and all other drugs) is that humans have sought altered states of consciousness for as long as we’ve been humans and are always going to, no matter how many are imprisoned or killed for it. Psilocybin use goes back at least 6,000 years (per prehistoric cave art depictions of its use) and some even plausibly theorize that it was the biblical “manna” consumed by the Hebrews as they wandered the desert for 40 years.

The moral justification for complete legalization (and all other drugs) is that what you put in your body, and for what purpose, is your business and no one else’s.

Alcohol prohibition and the century-long “war on drugs” are proof that it’s impossible to imprison enough people to change that fact of human nature. In fact, the world’s drug warriors haven’t even been able to keep drugs out of prison itself! How, then, do they hope to eliminate drugs from society at large? And why should we allow them to continue trying? The “war on drugs” is completely immoral, not to mention insanely expensive both financially and in terms of the effects it has on our communities.

This is not a complicated issue:

Don’t want to eat magic mushrooms? Don’t eat magic mushrooms then.

Don’t want to smoke cannabis? Politely decline the joint when it’s offered.

Don’t want to drink a beer? Order a nice frosty mug of root beer instead.

Don’t want OTHER people to eat magic mushrooms, smoke cannabis, or drink beer? Learn to mind your own business instead of asking politicians to bust heads because you won’t. Problem solved.

Yes, it really is that simple. Thanks again, Denver.

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Tortured “Complexity”

When someone is about to start doing some mental contortionism in order to try to justify statism, they’ll often make the statement, “it’s a very complex issue“. No, it really isn’t. They’re lying to try to appear deep and smart and to justify the unjustifiable.

“Gun control” isn’t a complex issue. You have no right to forbid weapons of defense to anyone, and you can’t delegate a right you don’t have.

“Drug legalization” isn’t a complex issue. You have no right to forbid the manufacture, possession, or sale, nor the ingestion, inhalation, or injection of substances. You can’t magically acquire that right just because you think it’s necessary. You have no right to have people do things you have no right to do without asking them to become bad guys. Prohibition is enforced by bad guys, only.

Immigration” [sic] isn’t a complex issue. You have the right to allow (or bar) anyone on (or from) your property. For any reason or no reason at all. You have the right to hire or trade with anyone. Your rights end at your property lines– the only legitimate borders.

“Taxation” isn’t a complex issue. It is theft– specifically extortion. Nothing can make it something else.

Complex issues” look complex only when someone adds all sorts of twists and turns, bells and whistles, bows and ribbons, and flags and laws. At the base, there’s probably a simple ethically right thing to do and hundreds of wrong things to do. They have to tell lies to justify the wrong things– the statist things.

When someone lies and calls a simple issue a complex issue you can be certain they are looking for ways to justify doing wrong. I’ve run out of patience with the lies told to harm others.

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Gun Laws Far Overstep Their Bounds

“Validly enacted laws.” This is how New Mexico Attorney General Hector Balderas deceptively characterizes the new anti-gun laws he wants enforced against you.

They aren’t validly enacted. They violate the Second Amendment, so they aren’t even laws.

You might imagine they don’t violate the Constitution, based on cowardly and dishonest opinions of Supreme Court justices over the decades, but they do.

The Second Amendment is clear. It’s even more clear once you’ve read the discussions that surrounded writing the Bill of Rights. There was to be no question — no laws concerning guns were to ever be allowed under any circumstances whatsoever.

The attorney general claims to be the state’s chief “law enforcement officer,” yet he orders others to break the law that guides all legislation.

He is entitled to his opinions, but not to making up his own facts.

No actions of a rogue governor, representative or attorney general can make an anti-gun law constitutional, legal, or valid. They can make threats, send letters, or hold meetings to try to force their will. They can bully other government employees and the residents of the state. It doesn’t make their lies true.

You and I both know government will do whatever it can get away with. The solution is to not allow these out-of-control officials to get away with any violation of liberty.

This violation of their oath of office should result in the immediate loss of the position; dragged from their offices in chains if they won’t leave peaceably.

If you believe I’m only passionate about gun rights, I’ll remind you I am equally opposed to prohibition, border controls, and all other violations of natural human rights as well.

If you value the Constitution you should join me. If not, you should join me anyway since anything that violates a natural human right is wrong, even when the Constitution allows it.

It’s a criminal act when public officials impose their wishes in defiance of what the Constitution allows.

Back in the 1920s, those who advocated alcohol prohibition at least passed a Constitutional amendment to make their laws Constitutional. They were still wrong, but they made the attempt to play by the rules. Those who target your liberty today don’t even go through the motions. They do what they want, secure in the knowledge that the courts will not bite the hand that feeds them.

Gang loyalty is powerful.

If government won’t, or can’t, control its appetites, it needs to be taken to the woodshed. It’s past time.

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Banning Real Progress

Begging government to ban vaping makes as much sense as begging government to ban car brakes.

No, vaping isn’t totally safe. It’s safer than smoking.

Your car having brakes won’t make driving totally safe. But it’s still safer than driving without brakes.

Banning, or heavily regulating, either one is going backward. Kind of like banning (or heavily regulating) suppressors.

That doesn’t mean I want government to mandate vaping as an alternative to smoking– it should be a personal choice. You do your life, I’ll do mine.

As a tangent– I’m always shocked at the amount of dishonesty involved in trying to fool people into joining the prohibitionists (or any statist cause, for that matter).

I saw a “public service” [sic] ad against the JUUL vapers recently, where the woman was horrified that the JUUL “contains as much nicotine as 20 cigarettes!” What is this, standard-capacity magazine hysteria aimed at a different tool?

I’m supposing you don’t get all the nicotine the device contains in one inhalation. Even if you did get all the nicotine in one sitting, wouldn’t it be just like chainsmoking 20 cigarettes? I’ve seen smokers do that (OK, I didn’t count, but you know what I mean). How many cigarettes come in a pack? 20 or 25? Are you going to shove them all in your mouth at once and smoke them together? I guess you could, but I don’t think there’s a way to get the entire contents of nicotine from 2019’s top vaporizer pens in the amount of time it would take to smoke one cigarette– unless you broke it open or something. But it sounds scarier to lie. Scared people are lemmings you can lead to cry for the privilege of being governed harder. So that’s what prohibitionists do.

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