Civil forfeiture needs to be abolished here
July 09, 2013 12:00 AM | 372 views | 0 0 comments | 10 10 recommendations | email to a friend | print
DEAR EDITOR:

George Will’s recent column discusses a topic that remains important. He talked about an overbearing government and cites examples all the way back to the 1910s. This is an issue here in Georgia just as much as it is anywhere else. Between a state government that wants to take over school districts to police departments shutting down whole neighborhoods over false bomb scares there’s just no end. And right now we’re having to deal with this annoying thing called civil forfeiture, where law enforcement can take your things even without charging you with a crime or even probable cause. Its existence has got a lot of people perturbed.

The topic was recently discussed in an Associated Press article which cited as an example a woman in Georgia who was riding in a car with her son. She had a lot of cash on her and her son was taking her somewhere to go house-hunting. He was pulled over for speeding. The officer decided to search his car for drugs despite the fact that he obviously wasn’t under the influence of something, and found the cash, which he then confiscated.

The article didn’t say what, if any, reason the officer gave for taking the money. From my understanding, it really didn’t seem like he was obligated to give one at all.

This has been an issue in several states and in Georgia there’s a movement to get the law changed if not repealed.

We can’t have police taking people’s stuff if the people are not being accused of a serious crime. That’s not what law enforcement is for. Thanks to enough complaining, Gov. Nathan Deal has become more open to changing the system, but civil forfeiture needs to be completely abolished.

We should all tell our legislators to support a bill that completely prevents civil forfeitures. Unless someone has been caught committing a crime and items need to be taken for evidence there is no reason for police officers to confiscate anything at all whatsoever. It accomplishes nothing. All it does is allow police to steal from civilians. Nothing more, nothing less. That’s why it has to go. They’re supposed to be enforcing the law, not breaking it, and citizens need to make sure there is some kind of accountability for this kind of action.

Right now, the accountability is sorely lacking. Even though precincts are required to give annual reports about seizures, that rule is not very enforced. And it wouldn’t do much good if it was. Stealing is still stealing. So let’s end it now before it gets worse.

Jonathan Worley

Marietta

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