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FBI says seized fortune was criminals’ loot—owners say: Where’s the proof? (latimes.com)
389 points by cascom 35 days ago | hide | past | favorite | 394 comments

This was so much worse than I imagined. It was a physical dragnet at a private safe deposit box business and the FBI is trying to claim all the customer's belongings under civil asset forfeiture because a dog smelled marijuana. Meanwhile two legitimate businesses who cannot legally transact with banks were customers and the boxes were not airtight

This is brazen overreach and needs to be reigned in

IIRC a nontrivial fraction of bills in circulation test positive for other drugs too, one coke- or meth-snorting bill can contaminate many more in cash drawers and wallets.

If I recall the factoid I read correctly it’s correlated with the value of the bill with the maximum sensitivity “wet/solvent sampling” methods they were basically able to always produce a trace from at least one substance considered to be a “narcotic” by federal law on lower denominations like $1 and $2. Were talking amounts so low normal that field testing swabs will miss them, but it’s clear evidence of how random the distribution of drug related chemicals on US currency is.

It’s not a tainted or not situation… for small denomination bills it’s really just a question of how tainted.

If I recall their conclusion section correctly, the issue is with these chemicals becoming macroscopically embedded into the fibres of a bill along combined with repeated exposure to liquids (mostly sweat and other water exposure) dissolving them in to the fibres at the microscopic scale

I’d say it’s criminal abuse of power.

Sadly, I don’t expect any thing as serious as even a slap on the wrist for this act that makes a joke out of the laws of the country.

> I’d say it’s criminal abuse of power.

That's exactly what it is, but there's generally no enforcement against police in the USA, and there's definitely no real enforcement against federal police as a group in the USA.

(Sometimes individual federal police get busted, but nothing happens to medium-to-large criminal conspiracies within the FBI/DEA/BATFE/etc.)

It's a known bug that nobody with the power to fix really cares about fixing.

USSC created fiction of "government immunity", so government actors are generally allowed to make any mistakes they want. If someone had put a wheel loader in there and scooped up the boxes and contents, it would be criminal premeditated theft.

I’d go a step and say that civil asset forfeiture laws make a joke out of the country.

"civil asset forfeiture laws". It's plain legalized stealing, no fancy wording could change that.

Yeah I have a lot of issues with Libertarians but stressing personal freedom and innocent until proven guilty (and by extension CAF injustice) I am behind them 100% .

the dog must testify, preferably in congress

Not directly relevant to the article, but it's probably a public service to have this here: If you're in the U.S., do not consent to a search! Ever!

If the police ask permission to search you, your car, or your house, say "I do not consent to a search". Followed by, "Am I being detained?" If the answer is "No, you are not being detained." then leave immediately (unless at your house, in which case go inside and lock the door).

Police are good at making you feel as if you have to consent. They might say, "We're going to search your car now." Makes it seem like you don't have a choice and it's happening one way or another, yeah? Well it's not the case. That was your cue to say, "I do not consent to a search". Saying "I do not consent to a search" might prevent a search or make evidence obtained during that [illegal] search inadmissible. Or it might be found that the police had probable cause or other reason to make the search legal, in which case you lost nothing.

Record + immediately upload such an interaction if you can.

As an aside, I appreciate like 90% of the work the police do.

Police are also good at making you think or feel that they're going to be worse or more suspicious if you refuse to consent to a search or refuse to answer questions. It's an INSANELY strong feeling, but it's nearly universally deceptive. Lots of cops will even go so far as to threaten, intimidate, or harass you if you don't answer their (theoretically voluntary) questions.

I've actually had US border pigs physically penetrate female partners of mine traveling with me, as retaliation, because I exercised my fifth amendment right to not answer their questions upon re-entering the US.

Do not consent to a search, and do not talk to the police.

Sadly in the US you must actually vocalize your silence, simply standing silent has been determined by the courts (in a completely insane decision) to be a potential admission of guilt. Practice speaking the following: "I'm sorry, officer, but I must insist on affirmatively exercising my right to remain silent."

More info if you need/want it: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d-7o9xYp7eE

The speaker in that video wrote a book("You have the right to remain innocent") where he argues that the "right to remain silent" (5th amendment) has been eroded in the USA and gives examples of court cases where the fact that a suspect asserted his right to remain silent was taken as an admission of guilt (and was allowed to be argued as such in court).

Therefore he recommends AGAINST saying anything regarding your right to remain silent, and even recommends against remaining completely mute (as this can also be used against you -- again, in contradiction with the constitution, but apparently the courts don't care).

The author therefore recommends that the proper way to invoke your 5th amendment right is to actually invoke your right to council. If you are questioned by authorities and wish to remain silent, then the correct response is the exact phrase: "I want a lawyer".

This effectively prevents then from further questioning you, ensuring your 5th amendment right, while also preventing them from testifying in court along the lines of "the suspect refused to answer questions and we found that to be suspicious"

>>but apparently the courts don't care

The US Supreme court has a long history of disregarding the constitution in favor of legislative deference or perceived public will

The 5th is just the latest in a long line of rulings that make the bill of rights looks like swiss cheese with all manner of exception, backdoors, and work arounds to ensure that government agents do not actually have to respect anyone's rights, and even if they blatantly violate them they get "qualified immunity" (a standard invented wholly by the US Supreme court) from any and all punishment for said violation

This is really being put to the test right now in the US with the Gabby Petito case. Where her fiance was refusing to talk to the police, exercising the 5th. The media and police kept asking, rhetorically, "If he's innocent, why wouldn't he talk to us?".

I fear the progress made by the Youtube video you linked may have been wiped out by this event.

How is that testing the right? Is the fifth amendment supposed to confer the right to be free of scrutiny or suspicion based on one's refusal to self-incriminate?

If an officer stopped you in your automobile and asked if you had any drugs on your person and you said "I plead the fifth", does that alone give them probable cause to search your car?

If you crossed a border and an officer asked you if you were carrying any dangerous goods and you answered "no" they might let you continue. If you answered "I plead the fifth" would they be constitutionally required to also let you continue or would they be able to discriminate based on that answer?

What I meant is that we made progress in terms of separating "I plead the fifth" and assumed guilt in the eyes of the public. Now that's getting entangled again.

Did we? If somebody exercises their right not to incriminate themselves by answering a question that significantly raises the probability they have committed a crime or have knowledge of one and are attempting to obstruct.

I know the ruling class and their ruling class lawyers would like to gaslight us into not believing our lying eyes and think that pleading the fifth is a perfectly normal and totally innocent thing to do. I don't think that is progress at all. The reality is that it obviously raises very real questions about their motives.

It doesn't mean they did commit a crime, it doesn't mean it is evidence beyond a reasonable doubt, but it is a data point that is perfectly legitimate to judge on its merits.

The fifth is to help defend against forced or coerced confessions, not to liberate a person being tried from being subject to judgement of their behavior.

Yeah he's being tried in court of public opinion. However their van was spotted very near the body, so it ain't looking good for him.

> Followed by, "Am I being detained?" If the answer is "No, you are not being detained." then leave immediately (unless at your house, in which case go inside and lock the door).

Your process is missing a bit of exposition here - I see lots of videos of people repeatedly asking that question and it not having a great outcome.

Yeah, the last time I asked a cop that, I was told "YES, YOU ARE." "Why?" "SUSPICIOUS BEHAVIOR, like asking if you're being deeeetaiiiiined."

Lots of videos of Sovereign Citizen nutjobs screeching "am I being detained?" hasn't helped things.

I have the vague recollection that there's some case law about this. Basically, asserting your rights doesn't create probable cause. Only useful after the fact, in court tho.

Also if you do not assert your right you lose them, case law about that do recently.

It is a double edged sword because sadly the police view the public as the enemy in alot of cases, and if you know your rights under the law they view you as "aggressive" or "hindering" their job.

Most do not understand that their primary job is to protect those rights the same rights that they hate people knowing and exercising. Instead they are deluded into this belief by elected officials that their legal role is one of overseer, or ruler over the residents or subjects in the jurisdiction...

That is of zero practical use on the side of a road with an angry cop screaming at you who has the power to significantly if not enormously disrupt your life.

You can do so politely rather than belligerently. Asking once or twice should be sufficient, if they don't answer but do not let you leave... clearly you are being detained.

it also helps to look like you can afford a lawyer


Yeah, I think striking the difficult balance of firmly and clearly asserting your rights but also seeming to be a reasonable, sane person who's really on the cops' side--all in the heat of a stressful moment--is the key.

"I appreciate your work officer, but I'm going to have to decline to consent to a search."?

>>As an aside, I appreciate like 90% of the work the police do.

This would not be needed to be said if

1. There was a proper process to remove bad actors from the force

2. If we did not over criminalize society to the point that every person needs to fear the police because chances are the police could find some law or regulation you have violated to ruin your day, week or life.

1. There are proper processes, it's just that they're under-used and the bar for removal is too high. I agree we should be actively filtering out bad apples much more than we are. I think we should raise the bar in general--cops, like schoolteachers, are really important to our societies and therefore they should have higher status and pay, commensurate with education, than they do.

2. This is a huge problem, you're right. We should maybe have a process for reviewing laws that have been on the books for a while. Maybe an automatic sunset: Every new law has a 7-year sunset provision. In 7 years after being passed, it automatically goes away UNLESS the legislature actively does something to renew it. Also drugs, of course--end the war on drugs.

1. Depends, there are plently of Officers, and Plenty of Teachers that make decent money. This idea that we under pay all teachers, and all police is just a lie told by the public sector unions. Many of the police in my area are many 3-4x the per capital income for the region.

2. I prefer a Jefferson view that all laws should expire Automatically, forcing the legislature to renew them if they want to keep them. The number of laws that have been removed from the books absent an expire clause is pretty low. Jefferson thought the constitution itself should have to be affirmed every 19 years

Classic video on the subject


Asset forfeiture is one of those things that sounds almost reasonable, usually because it's pitched as seizing Pablo Escobar's Lamborghini or similar. But in reality it's open to abuse, routinely abused (as mentioned here) and the Supreme Court should smack it down (well, maybe not this Supreme Court).

For example, abuse of forfeiture in Philadelphia [1]. There are cases where a teenager is arrested with selling small amounts of cannabis and then his parents have to repeatedly fight to not have their house seized as the proceeds of crime.

In the very minimum, asset forfeiture should require a criminal conviction. If you, the government, want to seize $1 million as the proceeds of drug trafficking, you should be required to convict someone with trafficking $1+ million in drugs. And I don't mean "street value" of drugs in their possession.

Anything less should be ruled as unconstitutional by virtue of being an unreasonable search and seizure.

[1]: https://whyy.org/articles/inside-the-philadelphia-das-side-h...

It's not enough that the FBI return the money and assets they stole here. There need to be penalities, in the form of compensation to the people they inconvenienced or forced to pay for a lawyer, and in the sense of professional or criminal consequences for the people who decided to conduct this theft.

The article says that asset forfeiture requires only a "more likely than not" standard of evidence, which seems terrible, but there's no indication that standard has been met. Most money isn't the product of drug trafficking. Seeing rubber bands and having your dog bark in the presence of the money may be slight evidence of drug dealing, but not enough to overcome the low prior.

Don't worry, the taxpayer has it covered

In this case, they don't, because the money isn't going to be given back. It's rare for seized assets to be returned, because in most places you have to prove the money wasn't being used for crimes.

In short: If you are carrying cash you have to worry less about a thug stealing it and worry more about cops stealing it.

Note: Assets stolen by law enforcement through CAF far exceeds assets stolens to home burglaries in USA.

This comparison is pointless. 100% stolen in burglaries is crime. We don't know the percentage for CAF. What if it is 99.9% justified?

My bad I thought it was obvious.

Police don't have to file any charges to keep the cash. The onus is on the victim to file a claim. Average cost to file a claim including attorney fees is $3000. Average size of forfeitured property is $1400. Most people let go of that money and no charges are filed and hence we do not have any data on the question you have raised. Various states have refused to share this data as well making it hard to obtain.

If the cops have not seeked conviction and have not obtained it I would argue that it is just plain theft.

The argument comparing claim cost against the size of property is bogus. Winning a forfeiture case AFAIK mandates the government to cover the attorney fees.

Also, repeating my comment from below:

Specifically, related quotes from Wikipedia:

"From 2005 to 2010, government seizures of assets from both criminals as well as innocent citizens went from $1.25 billion to $2.50 billion"

"In 2010, there were 15,000 cases of forfeitures."

If you divide $2.5B by 15k cases, you'll get avg. $166k/case, which is far from $1400 you mention. So either your source or my interpretation of Wikipedia is wrong.


Taking out a $3,000 loan and taking multiple days off work is pretty risky when one can reasonably assume that less than 100% of valid cases prevail in court.

This is one of those times you want to know what the median case is, not the average.

Either way. https://ij.org/report/policing-for-profit-3/pfp3content/forf...

Again, this data supports my point. Those $3k < median cases, assuming 15k/y figure is correct only amass to $23M forfeited, which is several magnitudes less than burglaries: > $1B

> Winning a forfeiture case AFAIK mandates the government to cover the attorney fees.

It is more complex than that. Under CAF the property is on trial and not you. While the state laws vary, around 12 states use what is call Administrative forfeiture. All they have to do is send you a notice claiming they intend to take away your property and you have 20 days to approach the court. 20 days. If you fail to do so, there is nothing you can do and the government keeps the property.

But even if you decide to file the claim, federal and state laws grant the power to government authorities to decide if the case should go to court. Federal law and some state laws give government attorneys the power to decide whether the claim can proceed to court. Most often you wont get your day in court at all.

CBP is the worst of federal agencies. By law when it steals your property, it is required to inform this to DOJ who is then supposed to either return the property or follow judicial forfeiture. In 7 out of 11 cases CBP simply ignores the law. The desperate property owner then have no choice but to negotiate with CBP which than splits the loot and returns only part of it to the owner.

> From 2005 to 2010, government seizures of assets from both criminals as well as innocent citizens went from $1.25 billion to $2.50 billion

I think your math is wrong because you are dividing 5 years worth of money with 2010's number of cases. But that is not very relevant. Bernie Madoff's few billion dollars were also under CAF so they would skew the mean. Also I would suggest look at state data. Institute of Justice has much detailed numbers. Florida's average CAF value is $4.5k and every other state is below $2k where as median cost to litigate is around $3000K.

> The median currency forfeiture is small, averaging just $1,276 across 21 states with available data. In some states, the median forfeiture is only a few hundred dollars. These low values suggest forfeiture often is not targeting kingpins or major financial fraudsters. [1] > In the four states that track this information, people seek return of their property in 22% of cases or fewer. [1]

> The low median value of most forfeitures is in line with media reports about forfeiture activity. For example, from 2012 to 2017, Cook County, Illinois, law enforcement conducted over 23,000 seizures totaling $150 million. The median value of these seizures was just $1,049, and approximately three-quarters of the seizures were of cash (most of the rest were vehicles). Many of these seizures, including most cash seizures of less than $100, were clustered in the poorest parts of Chicago. [2]

These trends of median value of CAF hold pretty much for every state but you can look at the IJ report yourself.

But any rate the original point stands, cops steal more than burglars.

[1] - https://ij.org/report/policing-for-profit-3/pfp3content/exec... [2] - https://ij.org/report/policing-for-profit-3/policing-for-pro...

> I think your math is wrong because you are dividing 5 years worth of money with 2010's number of cases.

My understanding $1.25B and $2.5B are per year numbers. But even if they are not, they are still 10x time more than your number.

ij.org is not the primary source, it does not reference the originals, and clearly has an agenda, so a different source is needed for the raw data.

Sure, if you are not going to trust IJ data I do not have much to add but then providing contrary data would be the responsibility of government agencies which they have not.

Secondly, while I suspect 15K is far to less number perhaps it might be tru for federal CAF, but we need to add state CAFs as well as Cook county alone seems to have seen over 23K instances over five year period.

IJ of course has an agenda to end CAF and without a doubt they will cherrypick data that suites their agenda, which is still better data that law enforcement which has far nefarious motives may provide.

0% of it is justified because if they had a reason to suspect a crime they would arrest the owner and use criminal asset forfeiture.

WaPo: Law enforcement took more stuff from people than burglars did last year


You completely missed the point of the question.

Criminal charges are filed in relatively few civil forfeiture cases. If civil forfeitures without criminal charges resulted in substantially more losses than burglaries, would you consider the prior poster's point provisionally made?

(I haven't attempted to see if that breakdown can be derived, I suspect it's true, but if you won't find it convincing it isn't worth trying to figure it out. :) )

> If civil forfeitures without criminal charges resulted in substantially more losses than burglaries, would you consider the prior poster's point provisionally made?

I am unsure about that. I'd argue that one must only include undisputed forfeitures. Despite the arguments about attorney costs, the total sum indicates that most of forfeited property costs much more than the cost of an appeal.

Specifically, related quotes from Wikipedia:

"From 2005 to 2010, government seizures of assets from both criminals as well as innocent citizens went from $1.25 billion to $2.50 billion"

"In 2010, there were 15,000 cases of forfeitures."

If you divide $2.5B by 15k cases, you'll get avg. $166k/case, which is far from averages posted above.


You should look at the median and not average.

If you assume that the number above is correct, and there were only 15k forfeitures in 2010, then assuming $3k median forfeiture (actually more than your number), the cases where forfeited money are insufficient to hire a $3k lawyer only amass to $23M of $2.5B total forfeited in 2010. They are also only 1/40 of the amount stolen in burglaries in the same year. And that estimate still assumes all those under $3k forfeitures were baseless.

>What if it is 99.9% justified?

What if you were the .1%? I think any amount of unjustified seizure of money from citizens is unacceptable.

> What if you were the .1%? I think any amount of unjustified seizure of money from citizens is unacceptable.

I think that's fine. It is not like judgement is 100% correct. We prefer the current system that might convict an innocent to a complete lack of a system. Doesn't mean there's no room for improvement. But also doesn't excuse using two incomparable metrics.

Given there was no conviction for a crime, we presume those holding the cash seized by the CAF to be innocent, and thus that the CAF was unjustified.

The difference between an arrest and an indictment is the answer to your idea.

The act of seizing assets without a trial and conviction is always unjustified. Being easier to stop criminals is a bug, not a feature.

Unless you have a source for that I'm highly doubtful on your last statement.

Don't worry, Politifact looked into this, and it isn't possible for the federal government to be seizing things from safe deposit boxes, because that would require a search warrant, which obviously isn't going to happen. Pants on fire.

  Various chain emails over the past seven years have warned readers about the possibility of Homeland Security seizing items like gold, silver and guns from their safe deposit boxes at the bank. This isn’t possible without first obtaining a search warrant, since those boxes are private property. And banking officials told us random seizures just aren’t happening. We rate this statement Pants on Fire.

I honestly don't understand why folks post a limited quote from a source, with an obvious implication (in this case, that Politifact was "wrong" in their analysis of the claim), but then when you go to the linked source it completely discredits the implication you are trying to make.

That is, Politifact was replying to a specific chain email that US Dept of Homeland Security had made it a written policy that they could seize any safe-deposit boxes at will. This is clearly false, and Politifact's analysis is correct.

In this specific case, the government did get a warrant, and from what is being reported it does look like they exceeded the boundaries of that warrant. That said, there is a far cry from "individual raid, for which there is an underlying warrant, exceeds the boundaries of that warrant" and "DHS has said they can confiscate any safe-deposit box at will."

The more important issue is that HN should be a place where I come to the comments to learn more about some of the underlying circumstances of a story (and I usually do), not a place where a low effort comment is made with the deliberate intention to obfuscate. Please leave that shit on Twitter.

Not only that, I don't think this was a bank, but instead a private holding company which allowed safe deposit boxes to be anonymous. What a bank reports as common with regard to seizures and what businesses like these report as common might be entirely different.

Not sure the reason for the downvotes, you are exactly correct. Banks have specific KYC (know your customer) and AML (anti money laundering) requirements that apply even in the case of a safety deposit box. In fact, the business in this article was specifically targeted by the Feds because he was advertising anonymous storage.

Again, I'm in no way absolving the FBI for what they did in this case, and I think civil asset forfeiture is just official theft in many instances, but just highlighting that there is a mountain of difference between what Politifact was originally responding to with respect to "DHS will seize your bank safety deposit box at will" and what happened with this shady outfit.

> Politifact was replying to a specific chain email

"Various chain emails" != "a specific chain email"

Not sure if parent is being sarcastic or what, but their Politifact link says that _warrantless_ search and seizure is not allowed - which is correct - but the article here clearly states that warrants were obtained before the search/seizure was conducted (although the agents apparently exceeded the parameters of those warrants, which is a different issue).

I feel like "exceeding the parameters of the search warrant" is the same thing as a warrantless search.

[IANAL] i think there is the "in plain view" exception. So, if say the box accidentally fell and opened (or it made sound like there is a ton of illegal cash inside), its content becomes fair game. Without observers the police can open and close a lot of boxes and declare the accident only on the ones which have interesting content.

>The FBI also said a dog had smelled unspecified drugs on Ruiz’s cash.

that works too. Especially given that most, or something like this, cash in US has traces of drugs on it.

If you see a pile of cash, in a bank, in a safe deposit box that's not the one you're authorized to be in, how can you tell it's illegal?

My understanding that in US any significant amount of cash is illegal until proven otherwise - i.e. the cash itself is basically "probable cause", and there is no effective legal machinery to prevent an immediate seizure of the cash by law enforcement, and the only way to get it back is to prove its legality.

The article is pretty clear on that point:

> In warrants authorizing the search and seizure of all “business equipment” at U.S. Private Vaults, U.S. Magistrate Steven Kim placed strict limits on the government, explicitly barring federal agents from searching the contents of each box for evidence of criminal wrongdoing.

Did...did you read the article at all?

"U.S. Private Vaults was indicted in February on charges of conspiring with unnamed customers to sell drugs, launder money and structure cash transactions to dodge government detection. No people were charged."

Meaning that the private company offering these deposit boxes was the target; and then everyone who used them is collectively facing the government seizing it for an indictment completely unrelated to them.

You may have missed the implicit "/s" from the parent's post.

And that's why it needed an explicit "/s": without a clear indicator of the author's intent, it's impossible to create a parody of extreme views such that it cannot be mistaken by some readers for a sincere expression of the views being parodied[0].

[0]: https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Poe%27s_law

You're not supposed to question if someone read the article. You're gonna get in trouble with a concerned HN citizen

The business in question is not a bank

If Politifact says so, then, brother, you can take that to the bank (but not the safe deposit box).

Never believe anything entirely but compared to say Sean Hannity, newsmax, or Infowars, which is where a lot of Republicans get their news from these days, they're practically 99% solid.

Banking officials promised us this doesn’t happen.

You know whats great about that leg work the Politifact folks have done here? Anyone who comes forward with statements to the contrary can easily be identified as liars which completely alleviates our already clogged justice system to pursue more important mandates. Thanks Politifact!

The FBI's story doesn't even sense. They justified it by saying it was too much cash, and a dog smelled drugs on the cash - both of which they couldn't have possibly known before raiding the safe deposit box. I don't think that selling legal items counts as probable cause for them to have searched it.

A few legitimate reasons to have a pile of cash:

1. Islam and some fundamental Christian denominations prohibit dealing with those who do usury, so some people can't use banks.

2. One could just have sold a car for cash.

3. People lend money to each other and the chef could just have been paid back.

4. Some people believe in reptiloids, some believe in imminent collapse of the society, so they buy bitcoin, dig bunkers and store cash in safe boxes.

5. Some people may want to store money in a place which is out of reach of their ex-spouses.

My point being: big pile of cash is a bad excuse for a search.

Legitimate reason to have a pile of cash #0: Because I want to.

Innocent until _proven_ guilty. It is not "could be guilty until you prove your innocence" nor is it "assumed guilty just because it fits a narrative" and nor is it "guilty because that is something other people who turned out to be guilty also did"

Stockpiling cash isn't a crime and unless it reached ludicrous proportions like a 25 year old barista having $5 million in a safety deposit box then burden of proof should lie on the government obviously people would have records they paid taxes on said amount surely though.

My understanding of the US legal system (I'm British) is that stockpiling cash isn't a crime, irrespective of the amount.

Sure, sleeping on a mattress made of $100 bills might raise suspicion.. but that's still not a crime. If the government suspect you haven't paid your taxes, the burden is still on them to prove you didn't pay your taxes. If they have any evidence to bring this to a court, it would need to pass the threshold of actually being evidence of absent tax payments, it is not enough to say "They are sleeping on a bed of benjamins, your honor."

I'm well aware this is ignoring how hilariously broken actual legal proceedings are, of course, thus scenarios like the one that started this thread.

Burden of proof should always lie on the government.

I suspect you started replying before I edited my comment to remove mention of the suspiciousness of his cash pile.

Frankly, neither #2 nor #3 apply to a pile of cash in a safe deposit box (and who loans almost twice the median income to someone?!), and #5 is illegal.

But yes, big pile of cash is definitely a bad excuse for a search and a worse excuse for a seizure.

2 and 3 absolutely can apply. Considering you get reported to the feds for transactions over $10,000 (or is it lower now?), it's completely reasonable for someone to decide it's not worth the risk and set the cash aside.

As far as number 5, you can't assume that's illegal either. I have a family member who's ex wife continues to commit identity theft and cause headaches for him 5 years after the divorce is over.

> Considering you get reported to the feds for transactions over $10,000 (or is it lower now?), it's completely reasonable for someone to decide it's not worth the risk and set the cash aside.

In that case, it would also be illegal.

> As far as number 5, you can't assume that's illegal either. I have a family member [whose] ex wife continues to commit identity theft and cause headaches for him 5 years after the divorce is over.

Okay? So he keeps his money in cash in a safe deposit box? Doubt.

>In that case, it would also be illegal.

It'd only be illegal if they weren't paying taxes on it or otherwise not reporting it for other purposes. Having a giant pile of cash because I don't like my bank auto reporting my money in and of itself isn't evidence of anything.

> and #5 is illegal

Only if that's an attempt to evade legal requirements, rather than (for example) moving personal money out of accounts that the ex-spouse has access to.

You can "(for example)" move personal money out of accounts that the ex-spouse has access to without putting it in a safe deposit box.

Or, you can put it in a safe deposit box.

That presumes other accounts or the ability to immediately open other accounts.

This is just the natural progression of giving any government organization power. Civil asset forfeiture was originally created to attack organized crime but much like the patriot act, once a group gets power they are going to use it as they see fit and are going to fight tooth and nail against giving it up. Every time power is given it is expanded and used in ways the original law did not envision.

Don’t drive down the highway with too much money… drug dealers use highways!

This the Orwellian society people continue to demand. You don’t get the parts of an authoritarian regime that just benefit your desires. You get the whole enchilada.

>Police justified the searches in some cases by saying the driver was nervous or “their carotid artery was pulsating.” In one case, troopers seized $50,282 after a traffic stop and charged the owner of the vehicle, who was not present at the time. In another, they took $525 from a passenger. Judges ultimately dismissed the charges in both cases, finding the searches were illegal. The state returned the $525 but kept $20,000 in the other case.

>The state returned the $525 but kept $20,000 in the other case.

>kept $20,000


I don't see myself ever needing to carry that much cash, but if I did, my carotid artery would be "pulsating" too.

I do wonder how the police get lucky so often.

Statistically, it seems like the police would very rarely, if ever, catch a person traveling with a lot of cash. First, a person would need to be pulled over (granted, isn't that rare), then the police would need to think to search the vehicle (they certainly aren't searching every out-of-town vehicle that is pulled over).

Yet, somehow they are managing to collect billions each year from civil asset forfeiture.

I suspect, without any proof what-so-ever, that police get records of large cash deposits/withdraws from banks and that information is available to them during traffic stops. These kind of cases happen too frequently to be chance, IMHO. There must be some kind of a priori knowledge available to the officers. Especially when they are nicking people going to pick up used cars from out-of-state or something.

Cops ask people they pull over if they have any weapons or cash in the vehicle, and people are either intimidated or naive enough to answer truthfully. The last time I was pulled over, years ago, I had about $50 in my wallet and the cop asked me if I had any cash. He was visibly annoyed when I responded with "uh, your asking me if I have a wallet?" and gesticulated with the wallet I already had in my hands to show him my ID. He could already see that I had cash in my wallet, but that's not what he was asking about.

Such a fun question. "No officer", then he decides you're lying and searches you/the vehicle for "officer safety" and finds the cash. Boom, now you lied about the cash and that's suspicious so the car and cash is seized and you end up in jail for the night or left on the side of the road with no car or money.

Answer "yes" and now it's a series of questions about the money of which none of it is the cop's goddamn business, and if you feel it's none of his business, boom, you're "acting suspiciously" and cash is seized and you end up in jail for the night or left on the side of the road with no car or money.

People carry large amounts of cash more often than you likely suspect-- not everyone lives their lives the same way you do!

Particularly when traveling out of state. And presumably officers are pretty good at profiling people of the relevant ethnic and economic status that make them more likely to be carrying substantial amounts of cash.

I think it's likely if ordinary police were getting this kind of information on a regular basis we'd know. There are just too many police to keep that kind of thing a secret.

Searches of ‘suspicious vehicles’ (aka whoever a cop wants to search) is pretty common - it would be a rare officer who doesn’t find an excuse to do it once every shift or two. Requesting searches (and getting permission), or drug-dogs ‘alerting’ at will to provide probable cause is surprisingly effective, however police usually pride themselves on their ability to produce probable cause for stops and searches, and it is a rare driver who doesn’t make it pretty easy on them.

Add a decent number of general cash transactions happening overall and if anything it’s surprising CAF numbers aren’t bigger. I suspect a lot of the ‘seizures’ go unreported as they know the party won’t try to report it/fill out paperwork.

They get lucky when it’s there. There is no reporting of cash that’s grabbed when none is found. So I think sampling bias is part of it.

Police also watch for vehicles (via cell tower tracking) going from legal MJ States, going to not legal States, staying for 30 minutes, then driving back. Cop stops the vehicle after the MJ in trunk is replaced with cash. Cop plays "let's make a deal" on the side of the road.

> I suspect, without any proof what-so-ever, that police get records of large cash deposits/withdraws from banks and that information is available to them during traffic stops.

That's how I'd do it if I were in charge of a well funded gang of thieves!

The fact that police can use subjective, undocumentable, unprovable (and undisprovable!) allegations as evidence is pretty damn bonkers. Especially given that the burden of proof is meant to be on the accuser.

What if you want to buy something for five figures but don't want to upload your tracklog to the FBI's warrantless mass surveillance system?

All credit/debit card swipes get fed into the FBI in realtime without a warrant, since 2010:


All of your purchase locations and timestamps are put in your cop file.

Could it be that this is precisely the reason they're encouraged to do it? This way y'all move towards a cashless society where the state has a bigger visibility into the money flows.

In Italy it's already illegal to use cash for payments bigger than 2000 eu.

What makes the US situation silly is that they could say "here is a new law, big cash transactions are illegal" instead they're formally legal but they treat you like a criminal if you happen to do it (effectively discouraging any citizen who has "nothing to hide" to just prefer traceable money transfer methods).

Somebody should push legislators to just make a clear-cut decision. It's either legal or illegal.

> In Italy it's already illegal to use cash for payments bigger than 2000 eu.

That's sad. Fortunately, it will be somewhat hard to enforce.

I tried buying my car in the USA in cash. Surprisingly, while it was legal, the dealership denied me.

Still gotta report that over $10k cash transaction: https://www.irs.gov/newsroom/understand-how-to-report-large-...

> kept $20,000

Its like I am reading report from the high-sea piracy

Quite honestly, you're seeing the difference between reasonable doubt, needed to secure a conviction, and probable cause, in this case the bullshit justification of the police to seize the assets because there is some likelihood of an offense occurring.

The onus is not on the police to prove a crime has been committed and the "innocent until proven guilty" system has flipped to where the accused now needs to move heaven and earth to verify he is innocent.

In all likelihood this is just a cash-grab by the cops and I would be suspicious whether all of the funds were entered as evidence or if some of it has "accidentally" been lost in transit.

It was raided by the FBI; I don't think the FBI is using this raid for petty cash (unlike local PDs).

(I think this is more a matter of the FBI being the FBI: they were convinced that they'd find lots of evidence of crime inside those boxes, evidence they couldn't stand not to get their hands on, because they're the FBI and they don't like anything they can't see)

FBI raided Branch Davidians in Waco for budget reasons. Budget hearings were several days after the botched no-knock raid, and the local sheriff said David Koresh regularly jogged down the road and could have been picked up peacefully any day.

> The FBI also said a dog had smelled unspecified drugs on Ruiz's cash.

What do warrants even prove at this point? That a cop went down a list of increasingly convoluted excuses and picked an attractive looking one?

Studies repeatedly show that almost all currency is contaminated with traces of drugs.

In The Netherlands we don't need this. A sufficient amount of cash is enough to get you arrested. You will get a trial though.

Well in USA it is not illegal to carry cash (and for a good reason) but more than theft you have to worry about cops stealing it. Which is what makes it problematic.

If you are an actual drug dealer you can hire one of those armored cash moving trucks to move your cash and the cops will never bother stopping it.

I remember an instance on HN maybe 9 years ago or so where the treasurer of a third-party on the US was detained at the airport and questioned about the amount of cash he was carrying. Probably seems reasonable, as I would imagine most people carrying massive quantities of cash aren't up to any good. But no one was able to tell him if he was actually required to answer the questions in order to be allowed to travel and retain ownership of the cash. He kept getting passed around until eventually someone told him that yes, he was required to answer the question. Which I believe is incorrect - I expect they got sued afterward.

edit: I believe this was the incident: https://www.aclu.org/press-releases/aclu-sues-dhs-over-unlaw...

edit 2: It was $4700. Wouldn't raise eyebrows in a bank withdrawal. Not what I had in mind when I said "massive".

In NL there is current proposal to prohibit cash transactions > 3k.

A EU wide rule may follow, but maybe a bit higher.

Such rules wont fly in USA as Americans generally guard their liberties better than EU or NL. There is no reason why there should be any restriction on cash transactions. But in USA which has a huge network of cash/coin operated machines such a restriction would not be possible either.

Sometimes I feel restrictions on cash are at the behest of large banks ad duopolies like Mastercard and Visa.

In the US cash transactions over 10k are highly regulated. And interestingly even making a series of withdrawals for say $9,500 is also illegal, even though it’s under the limit. They call it “structuring” and even politicians in the US Congress have been charged with this.

"higly regulated" isn't really accurate. Banks have a reporting requirement but there aren't really any restrictions on individuals or their ability to make such transactions.

The actual restrictions are (as you mentioned) on transactions under 10k that need to avoid any possible appearance of structuring to avoid the 10k deposit reporting

Dennis Hassert , former speaker of the house, was convicted of exactly this for withdrawing cash to pay off the blackmailer who threatened to go public with Hassert history of child sex abuse when he was a wrestling coach.

I don’t know if there are casinos, card rooms, and/or home game poker scene in NL. If so, how do professional and semi-professional poker players carry their cash?

Carrying $20k+ to a good home game is not uncommon in California.

Even if it's sitting in a safety deposit box?

Civil forfeiture is an outgrowth of the war on drugs (which was itself an outgrowth of anti-black racism). Just like NSA spying is an outgrowth of the war on terror. I doubt we will be able be able to end civil forfeiture until we end the war on drugs.

> Just like NSA spying is an outgrowth of the war on terror

A lot of the framework and the beginnings of domestic spying really started after the Oklahoma City Bombing. The underpinnings of the Patriot Act were originally passed then.

> war on drugs (which was itself an outgrowth of anti-black racism)

I think this is an oversimplification of the history of the war on drugs. Racism is certainly a facet, but the association of drugs use with counter culture and the anti war movement are just as important. Soaring crime rates in the 70s and 80s are also related to the war on drugs. There were also cultural and political incentives to ratchet it up in the name of :doing something". Average people of every racial and economic background were concerned about drugs in the early 80s. Boiling it down to any one thing really does a disservice to complexity of the issue. Radley Balko's "The Rise of the Warrior Cop"[1] has a lot of good historical information on the topic.


Soaring crime rates in the 70s and 80s are also related to the war on drugs.

The "relation" is that those soaring crime rates were caused by the war on drugs.

The War on Drugs picked up steam well after crime started rising. Violent crime tripled (288,460 to 738,820) between 1960 and 1960 and population only increased by ~20 million. It then doubled again by 1980. The Comprehensive Drug Abuse Prevention and Control Act was passed in 1970, and the DEA was created in '73. Drug raids really picked up in the mid 70s. The drug war really became what we know today with the Comprehensive Crime Control Act of 1984.

There isn't broad consensus on what causes crime rates to soar from roughly 1960 to 1992.

I'm not sure what was meant by "between 1960 and 1960", so I'll assume you mean the period 1960-70. A tripling in a decade for the behavior of a fairly stable population can't be real, so this was probably more closely related to effort devoted to policing, changes in classification policy, etc. If you linked to something we could consider it.

> A lot of the framework and the beginnings of domestic spying really started after the Oklahoma City Bombing. The underpinnings of the Patriot Act were originally passed then

Not really sure what you are trying to say here. Your tone suggests that you are refuting OP's point when you are actually reinforcing it (the Oklahoma bombing was a terrorist attack albeit domestic)

I think it's interesting and worth pointing out that the trend began before the "War on Terror", which in my experience people often don't know. My point was to sort of say, yes but let's look a little deeper as the history is interesting and important.

We didn't really start calling it "The War on Terror" until after 9/11/2001. That's my guess as to where that comment is coming from.

Yeah, the "War on Terror" picked up and expanded upon prior art so to speak. Here's Biden talking about the history of the Patriot Act in 2002[1]. You'll note the 1994 bill he mentions actually came after the 1993 World Trade Center bombing, which I'd neglected to mention earlier.

[1] https://www.c-span.org/video/?c4876107/user-clip-joe-biden-w...

If you’re saying that the “war on drugs” was motivated by any less than 50% racism you lost me. Yes, it was also useful in marginalizing anti war and counter cultural movements, but that was a side-benefit. The war on drugs was started in 1971 - and was a driving force behind that “soaring crime rate”

It's hard to say for sure. The first raids using military like tactics were carried out in Humboldt County, CA against "hippies". Now John Ehrlichman did tell Harpers Magazine in 1994 that in 1968 they intended to target " the antiwar left and black people," so there is that. But if you read through contemporary commentary from the 1970s you'll find a politically and racially diverse coalition in support of drug laws. Were some of them animated by racial animas, almost certainly, but it's not that simple. Charles Rangel, the then head of the Congressional Black Caucus whipped for the passage of strict drug laws as early as 1968.

The average American in 1970 really wanted more drug enforcement as an ends unto itself. It was something of a national preoccupation across the political divide by 1980.

> 50%

How do you even begin to quantify such a thing as intent? Not least when the best evidence for intent is a dodgy quote published years after the death of the man who might have disputed it?

By looking at how it was applied immediately after creation

>Civil forfeiture is an outgrowth of the war on drugs (which was itself an outgrowth of anti-black racism)

Where did you get this ridiculous counter-factual? As a group, Black people,by fact of being concentrated in poor and urban areas, where drug violence did its greatest destruction to the public realm, were some of the biggest proponents for the war on drugs.[0] This spanned all levels of government, from community organizers in New York City to the Congressional Black Caucus.

In a surprising turn of events, sometimes mistakes are just mistakes.

[0] https://www.wnyc.org/story/312823-black-leaders-once-champio...

Asking for something to be done / law and order in your community is different from asking for a “the war on drugs”. Black communities had problems, the gov delivered racism and called it law & order. Anyway, here’s a source if you’d like to hear more about the racist underpinnings of the war on drugs https://www.wnycstudios.org/podcasts/otm/episodes/on-the-med...

The war on drugs relies on civil forfeiture, and the practice could be ended with a single law. That would effectively end the war on drugs.

> That would effectively end the war on drugs.

Given that the war on drugs existed before the ramp up of civil forfeiture, I doubt that. But I’m down to find out if you can get that single law passed - my point was the perception of drug dealers rich off drug money are the reason there’s not a lot of support for ending civil forfeiture.

Everyone below who advocates abolition of civil asset forfeiture is correct.

The "justification" for it is: a criminal can amass vast sums of money, then use it to buy so many top lawyers that he or she is untouchable.

That may be a problem, but "fixing" the problem requires harming so many people who haven't committed any crime that the fix is worse than the problem. A serious criminal will keep the assets safe from law enforcement, i.e. not in a strip mall "bank."

Why not just require everyone to use a public defender? That would fix the "problem" too. (That was a joke, in case you're wondering.)

"The "justification" for it is: a criminal can amass vast sums of money, then use it to buy so many top lawyers that he or she is untouchable"

So, logically follows that the ruling class is above the law?

They don't even try to pretend otherwise.

Mostly they are. Occasionally one is thrown to the wolves (looking at you, Bernie Madoff and Martha Stewart) to sustain the illusion that no one's above the law.

Given Martha's brand is doing exceptionally well and she uses her prison stay for gags in commercials and appearances on talk shows, more like thrown to a bunch of golden retriever puppies.

Her appearance on Ellen alongside Snoop was pretty funny, though.

> The "justification" for it is: a criminal can amass vast sums of money, then use it to buy so many top lawyers that he or she is untouchable.

So they're admitting the justice system is dysfunctional and the only way to fix it is via more dysfunction. It shouldn't matter how much money the defendant has. It works the other way, too. The gov has access to a vast number of resources compared to the people they try to convict. I sat on a jury and witnessed this myself. The defendant had a lone public defender, while the gov had an army of lawyers and public workers at their disposal.

This kind of makes sense, but then those same lawyers are willing to work on spec and get a larger cut of the money when returned. (aka, they have no incentive to fight this system)

> That may be a problem, but "fixing" the problem requires harming so many people who haven't committed any crime that the fix is worse than the problem.

According to Wikipedia there were only 15k asset forfeiture cases in 2010 in total, and that includes criminal forfeiture. Chances are many of them are either criminal money or are actually easily returned. So how many innocent people are actually affected by this?

So you're saying that if the government only steals money from a few innocent people, that's OK?

And "Chances are many of them are either criminal money": we have a process for determining if someone's a criminal. It doesn't involve the government just deciding that on its own.

> So you're saying that if the government only steals money from a few innocent people, that's OK?

Yes! Just like it is OK (as in better than nothing) to have innocent people imprisoned sometimes, or denied common rights unjustly due to judgement mistakes. Policies are hard like that. There's a thin line and to discuss them it is important to understand everything that will happen if you move one.

Policies are indeed hard, but there are basic principles to follow, like the right to due process before one is deprived of liberty or property. And having your property taken away and forcing you to file legal proceedings to get it back, with no interest paid for the intervening time, is very definitely being deprived of property.

Let's take a different case: Duterte in the Phillippines. "We know who's a drug dealer, so the police can just kill them. Yeah, maybe a few innocent people will get killed, but hey, small price to pay."

Is that too extreme? What if the police just rounded up people they thought were drug dealers and jailed them, putting the burden of proving their innocence on them?

"Innocent until proven guilty" - that's the policy that you cannot violate.

> the right to due process

Which is simply a process, written into the law.

> before one is deprived of liberty or property

I'd be curious to hear what the universal right to "due process" is, if it is not defined as above, and which would allow to arrest people on the crime scene or even better after a short chase from the crime scene, including the property they might have just stolen.

> Let's take a different case: Duterte in the Phillippines.

You said immediately after my comment, whose point was that how much exactly to move the line and which direction is the process of policing.

In an ideal world, seizures should be escrowed until a proof comes to light. And if innocent, they amount to a loan so the entity who did the seizure should pay interest along with the restitution.

(Sadly in reality even when innocent, it's hard to get the assets back without a legal battle.)

EDIT: typos.

A lot of this eventually reflects American society itself. I am generalizing here but Americans in general are pretty insensitive to anyone who is claimed to be a criminal. I have seen people argue that rights of someone like George Floyd do not matter as in past he had committed some crime. There is a huge support for taking away rights of people who are convicted of crimes irrespective of those crimes. When we talk about the bad conditions in our jails, people are quick to say "who cares how those evil folks are treated"?

The law enforcement understands this and uses it to profit from this public support.

A lot of this "we don't care about criminals" attitude is cover for many Americans' feelings around race. Despite being only 12% of the American population, there are more black people in prison than whites (though this ratio is improving). Incarcerating black people has a long history going back to the post-Civil War environment when some states created a web of laws designed to incarcerate black people, because they were no longer allowed to own them as slave property.

So when you hear people say "well, Floyd committed a crime previously," it's the long shadow of the past of (1) criminalizing them and then (2) dehumanizing them, in order to treat them as low value chattel - justifying killings or other mistreatment.

Let me preface this with: George floyd was essentially subjected to an execution without trail and nothing about the officers use of force was justifiable.

That said I think it disgusting to pretend that George Floyd was subject to a "web of laws designed to incarcerate black people", unless that web of laws targeting only black people includes prosecuting things like armed robbery. If his priors had only included things like jaywalking or drug possession I might agree with you.

"In 2007, Floyd faced charges for aggravated robbery with a deadly weapon; according to investigators, he had entered an apartment by impersonating a water department worker and barging in with five other men, then held a pistol to a woman's stomach."

If anyone wants to talk about disproportionate prosecution thats fine. I think more armed robbers should be in jail to protect innocent victims, and if that means catching more white or asian ones I'm all for it.

Sentencing disparities are disgraceful but I thought I remember reading that they largely disappeared if you adjusted for prior convictions and mitigating circumstances(armed robbery with an straw purchased gun vs. a bat for example). Also I think somewhat related were economic reasons(affording a better lawyer), and honestly though tackling poverty is probably a better way to prevent future criminals, we still need to do something about today's criminals and protect future victims.

In 2007, Floyd faced charges for aggravated robbery

OK, and? That quote is from Wikipedia and I'm sure that you read on and saw the next few sentences documenting that he served 5 years in prison for that crime, and then worked with rehab mentoring organizations and was never again charged with a violent crime or property crime. He was briefly arrested in 2019 for possession of opiates due to his personal drug addiction.

I think more armed robbers should be in jail to protect innocent victims

But he went to prison, for 5 years. Armed robbery is bad for sure, but how long do you want to keep people in prison? Nobody was shot or otherwise injured. After he was released, there were no similar offenses. Why would you still want to treat him like a violent criminal 13 years later?

>OK, and?

I was responding to the disingenuous claims in the original post.

>Nobody was shot or otherwise injured

Being held at gunpoint might not cause physical injuries but its dismissive to pretend it causes no injuries.

>After he was released, there were no similar offenses. Why would you still want to treat him like a violent criminal 13 years later?

I wouldn't, don't attribute the strawman in your head to me.

More relevant to the original post I responded to I also wouldn't pretend he was only subject to a "web of laws designed to incarcerate black people" after getting punished for committing a violent crime.

You wanted to refute a claim about what happened in 2020 by bringing readers back to 2007, while omitting any mention of the prison term and rehabilitation but articulating the need to put violent criminals in prison.

Then you say you were responding to disingenuity? Sorry, no sale.

> according to investigators

Investigators also once said "After Floyd got out of his car, he physically resisted officers. Officers were able to get the suspect into handcuffs and noted he appeared to be suffering medical distress. Officers called for an ambulance. He was transported to Hennepin County Medical Center by ambulance where he died a short time later."

I don't always trust what investigators say, especially ones from a department that once jailed Floyd for 15 days for "failure to identify to a police officer" (???), and later murdered him.

Edit: Apologies, it was actually a different department that murdered him.

"Floyd was arrested three months later during a traffic stop and a 7-year-old victim of the robbery identified him from a photo array"

Maybe the 7 year old who identified him was coerced by detectives. Anything is possible. That doesn't mean we discount all evidence presented with the thought terminating cliche "ACAB".

I'm not discounting any evidence. I accept that the department presented that pretty weak-sounding evidence, and it's possible they got the right guy. However, the actual woman he threatened did not identify him, the method of identification is no longer used by the department (nowadays a photo array has to be presented by officers who don't know any of the suspects, so they can't introduce any bias), there was no physical evidence at all, there is an incredibly long documented history of police lying in cases just like this one, there is an equally long history of defendants being pushed into plea deals despite their innocence, 7 year olds are not reliable even in the best of circumstances, and Floyd himself maintained his innocence before and after his jail time. Based on the totality of the evidence I'm aware of, I believe there's a significant chance Floyd was innocent of this charge.

I'm very comfortable saying that even in an ideal future where racial harmony has been achieved and police misconduct is a distant memory, if placed on a jury I still would never convict someone on the sole evidence of a 7-year-old's photo array testimony 3 months after the crime occurred.

I for one think the officers have to prove that their word is trustworthy, and they have not.

In absense of other evidence, I'll presume innocence, and that the officer is lying. That's what the thought terminated ACAB means there, a presumption of innocence.

I also would not trust eye witness identification in many cases. Especially from a seven year old.

The criminal justice system in the US demonstrably does not rehabilitate convicts. There is a clear causal link between being incarcerated for something like drug possession or petty theft and committing more serious / violent offenses in the future. Not to justify George Floyd's actions, but this is exactly the "web of laws designed to incarcerate black people".

Labels, particularly dismissive labels, cause harm.

Someone who is known to have committed a crime in the past, is what 'criminal' should mean. However the word has decayed to implicitly meaning 'career criminal', which might also be an apt label. Contrast to the phrase 'reformed criminal'.

The problem of __dismissive labels__ rather than specific labels being bad, hadn't been conveyed to me previously and this helps me see the rhetoric about avoiding other dismissive terms such as 'homeless' in a clearer light. Even the new PC terms often only get used in the same way; which does not solve the problem, nor communicate why the change in phrasing was necessary.

> "web of laws designed to incarcerate black people",

I disagree. There is indeed a web of laws and subsidies that makes black people to chose a career of crime.

It starts with public schooling system. Black ghettos have some of the countries worst schools. These schools fail all the black kids in their early formative years. This blame is not on racist white conservatives but teachers union funded political left.

Not only black kids fail to get a good education, their overall lack of abilities are glorified by political left in the name of multiculturism. Failure to speak good english, dress well, do basic math, reading and writing etc. is something portrayed as uniquely black things that somehow we should celebrate. A black kid who does well academically is called a coconut. The kid who is out of school can not find a job or unpaid work because of minimum wage laws enacted by political left.

If you are white kid and 17 years old it is much easier to find a job. You have a social connections, other white people trust you and other small business owners are mostly white. If you are black kid of a single mom living in a ghetto getting that first job is incredibly hard. How do you survive then ?

Your bad second hand car gets tickets which you can't pay. You get arrested for not paying them. Out of desperation you learn to peddle drugs and go to jail a few times. You record means you can never get even the lowest of low jobs at Costco or Walmart. The only choice you have now is to continue working in the underground economy which has worst of ethics and higher probability of getting jailed.

Warren Buffet use to say that the modern cash register made an entire generation of Americans more honest. He had a point. Larger dishonesty starts with smaller thefts. But reverse is also true, if you are never exposed to honest work, it is hard for you to stay out of jail in this country.

I do feel crime among black people is a systemic issue and not an issue of genetics and both political left and right are responsible for pushing them into this sad state.

PS: My arguments are mostly based on Thomas Sowell's work around race. He has put in lot of efforts to show that while culture matters, the culture itself is not determined by genetics. Culture evolves based on incentives.

regarding George Floyd's history as a pregnant women stomach stickin' bad man, dunno if that counts.

As a practical matter, I'd say it's more along the lines of just how do you control a crazy acting person without hurting them. A certain number of them are going to die, there's no way around it. Most people would probably agree that a lot of traffic stops and arrests are for chickenshit offenses. Add to that the fact that police are wired a little like German Shepherds. You run, they chase.

>> As a practical matter, I'd say it's more along the lines of just how do you control a crazy acting person without hurting them. A certain number of them are going to die, there's no way around it.

That’s… quite a summary of a cop putting his knee on someone’s neck while people all around screamed at him that the man was suffering, and staying in that position until the man died. Floyd was already on the ground and had four armed policemen surrounding him - how was he a threat, or someone who couldn’t just be hauled up and cuffed / placed in a police car? Compare it for example to the almost-courteous way Dylan Roof - who committed a crime far worse than anything Floyd ever did - was treated by the police when they finally caught up to him.

I’m sorry but you sound like a right wing TV host doing their best to paper over the truth / make it about anything else but the inherent racism of American policing. Perhaps if Floyd was an aberration your point might hold - but this is clearly a pattern, as we’ve seen over and over. The only way to solve the problem is by understanding its roots, not blasé statements reducing it to statistics and a “crazy acting man” who couldn’t be subdued without hurting him.

Honestly, it's remarkable how often they hold (or held, now that it's unpopular) people down in just that way. There's a few other not-nice ways to disable someone.

Usually they don't die. Designing a protocol is not such an easy thing.

Talk to someone who has worked in a cell-extraction team, it's a pretty outrageous scene.

'inherent racism'? Sounds like someone who has a purely internet knowledge of policing. The world's a complicated place. Save your outrage to bore your friends.

Perhaps you should educate yourself about this, instead of dismissing it as outrage to bore my friends with. You can start with this article:


I didn’t bring it up before because it wasn’t germane to my point, but I’m an African man (from West Africa, where the effects of chattel slavery are still being felt every day) who has lived in the US for a decade. So yes, as a person who has experienced both the racism displayed to us people living in the so-called “third world”, as well as racism in the US, I think I am entitled to my outrage. Perhaps working in a cell-extraction team as you said is making you take this personally. But this isn’t about you, it’s about a system set up after slavery to keep black people in their place. It doesn’t mean every policeman / woman is racist, just as I wouldn’t say “all white people are racist” just because they continue to benefit from a system that was setup to heavily favor them. So please don’t dismiss my viewpoint as mere outrage informed by the Internet. Of course the world is a complicated place - even back home not all our problems can be blamed on slavery and colonialism (we have had terrible leaders, our government is rife with corruption etc). That doesn’t mean racism’s effects don’t play a huge part in our current state, or continue to lead to young black men especially having their lives treated as more expendable than their white counterparts.

There's also a lot of cultural propaganda that promotes the idea that the justice system is fair and unbiased. People instilled to think of themselves as the collective embodiment of perfection can't accept anything less than that. Hence if you've entered the meat grinder of the system you must have done something to deserve it because the system is designed to protect our Freedom™.

There has to be though, no? If the popular perception of how order is kept is that it is a random draw of minorities from a hat then it would no longer serve the purpose of being a disincentive to do crime.

You can probably draw a very clear line between 'perception of fairness in the criminal justice system's and 'likelyhood to commit crime'.

>cultural propaganda that promotes the idea that the justice system is fair and unbiased.

I'll take what you might think of as a third track.

It's not so much that it's biased, but that it's arbitrary. Especially at the Federal level, the disparity in sentencing is remarkable..and it isn't just the difference in lawyer quality depending on wealth.

Disproportionate incarceration is downstream* of disproportionate violence. Murder stats, which are relatively reliable since dead bodies are hard to disappear without careful planning and effort, demonstrate this. Why there's disproportionate violence in black communities need not involve genetics. Don't most people agree that black Americans got the short end of the stick historically? The ramifications include dynamics like shitty ghetto economies that make crime look like an attractive option.

*I do think there's plenty of racism, institutional and otherwise, embedded in the "justice" system itself. Sentencing disparities are a travesty. But it's more complex than you implied.

This statement may miss or minimize the argument for / against participation in a gang, especially without the presence of a paternal figure in a person's life, especially a young male's life ... who then becomes a father ... who then is removed from life due to decisions in circumstances ... whose child then grows up without a paternal figure, who then finds solace in a gang... who then...

See the cycle?


And then there's the argument for why gangs exist in the first place, or other small, localized militias providing protection and a place of belonging.

"Just don't commit crimes, 4head" misses... a lot.

Yes, but you don't have to be convicted. An arrest, with or without charge, is a black mark to many, many people. (This attitude is at its worst when considering prison conditions. No-one is dehumanized more than a prison inmate in this country.)

Sure, consider the human rights abuse that is the online mug shots industry in the US for example. There's no sympathy for those people, the assumption is guilt. The superficial tough on crime types revel in the notion that those people get publicly humiliated (and it fulfills the deranged lust for snooping, nosing into other people's business). Mug shots don't tell the story of whether someone is innocent or guilty and yet your photo might end up on the Internet regardless.

> the human rights abuse that is the online mug shots industry

The way we treat people with a mug shot is horrendous. But mug shots per se serve a vital purpose: they are a public record of persons the state is holding. That makes “disappearing” them later on harder.

The way mug shots are handled goes back to this shitty attitude that police have regarding citizens' rights. Any time they are legally forced to do something, they try to make it as humiliating as possible as an additional punishment.

Any sane government would find a way to both protect the identity of the accused while also ensuring the the appropriate family members can get access to this information if necessary.

While we're at it, the way normal people get arrested is fucking horrible too. It's not like in the movies where they lightly cuff your hands together. The police have specifically designed their handcuff procedures to be as painful as possible and to make it look like you're resisting, when in fact, you're just responding to pain and trying to maintain balance.

Not sure this is a good argument.

If I were an oppressive state, I'd make sure to publish mugshots of most people, to create a "public trail" of "we don't disappear people" but only actually disappear those few that I really wanted to disappear.

I certainly agree. I think it makes sense to photograph anyone arrested, for numerous logical reasons (not least of which is because I don't trust the authorities; the photos should also be protected from tampering by the same authorities). My contention is of course that mass posting them online is a human rights abuse. I think it's a form of cruel and unusual punishment, where someone has not necessarily been found guilty of any crime and they're being assaulted by the state (their image, reputation). My opinion is that online mug shots rather blatantly violate the eighth amendment.

> mass posting them online is a human rights abuse

Where would you prefer they be posted? Would you be prohibited from photographing them?

The core problem is how we treat people accused--not even convicted--of crimes. Socially. But also legally. That's a better place to address the issue than trying to gerrymander the Eighth Amendment.

We should start a trend of posting fake mugshots of ourselves online for plausible deniability. Call it #mugshotchallenge.

I think the worst of it is in jail conditions. Most people in jail haven't been convicted of a crime (although jails do double duty for short term sentences, which is another wtf.) Jails should be a comfortable as dorm rooms, and have internet and phone. You're put in jail so you don't leave; the rationale isn't supposed to be to punish, but somehow it still is.

Jails ARE absolutely supposed to punish people kept inside. They aren't called penitentiary for nothing, literally meaning "a place for punishment" [1]

[1]: https://www.etymonline.com/word/penitentiary

I would like to point out that there is a huge difference between codified punishment vs how it is in practice.

For example I am pretty sure if you create a bill that says prison inmates are required to give a fellatio to other inmates it will not muster a single vote in Congress. Yet, it is reality of prisons. Now, is penitentiary supposed to punish people like this ? No. Do most Americans find pleasure in the fact that inmates in prison are treated like this ? I think Yes.

The point is once you are in prison for whatever reason, your life is essentially done even if the punishment was for few years. You wont get a job, no one will rent a place to you, you wont get a loan and so on. Unless you have a pretty big community safety net you wont survive.

Jails any ways are not supposed to punish people.

I believe the GP was making a distinction between jail and prison. Jail is where you are held until your trial or you make bail. Prison is where you are sent after you are convicted. A penitentiary would be a prison, not a jail.

If he was talking about it in this sense, I agree. However in my native language these terms are used interchangeably, both meaning "prison".

To be fair, it is not unusual for native English speakers to conflate the two words as well.

Even prison should be without "cruel and unusual punishment", with emphasis on "cruel". For example, letting prisoners die in extreme heat is cruelty on its face. John Oliver had a thing on this recently[1]. Looks like Texas has done the minimal thing, which is effectively nothing [2].

1 - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6fiRDJLjL94

2 - https://www.texastribune.org/2021/05/14/texas-prison-air-con...

That's not really true historically. There's the whole Wild West ethos that still makes its way into pop culture (Star Wars, Breaking Bad, Clint Eastwood, Toy Story 2, Back to the Future Part 2, etc), which glorifies outlaw life and people making it through their wits rather than the support of authorities. There are cities like San Francisco and Las Vegas, basically built on criminals building a local civilization. Prison movies like Shawshank Redemption, the Green Mile, and One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest have us rooting for the inmates. We keep electing Kennedy clan members, even though the family fortune is built on Scottish distilleries and securities manipulation. American history includes bomb-throwing anarchists, 3 revolutions, massacres by private security forces, hippie communes, the KKK, police forces bombing their own citizens, and plenty of extrajudicial lynchings.

I think that the time period where this is true is the post-WW2 prosperity. There was a large premium on order and social stability here, along with creating institutions that kept (white, suburban, middle-class, male) Americans safe and gave them a stable upwards trajectory. Much of the support for law & order comes out of the demographic that grew up in this time period, with subsequent generations being much more skeptical of law enforcement and sympathetic to criminals. You don't see 20-somethings flying thin-blue-line flags, but you do see them calling to defund the police.

I think as far as pop culture glorifying it, there's an element of people not really understanding what it means to be on the side of the outlaw. A lot of people think of themselves as on the side of outlaws in general without ever realizing that they have never once taken the side of anyone accused of being a criminal. So yeah, it's glorified in media, but I'm not sure it translates in practice.

I think your real life examples are great, though!

I'm not sure I really agree with that either. A lot of people would never consider ratting out their neighbors or classmates for smoking weed, for example. Lots of CA suburbanites make it a point not to ask the immigration status of their domestic help, and will do what they can to help out people they know who are at risk of being deported. I had one college dormmate with reported ties to the mafia; I made a mental note not to get on his bad side, but he was a nice guy so I was still friends with him. I had another college classmate whose aunt ran a famous Hollwood prostitution ring and had served time in federal prison; he was a douchebag so I didn't like hanging out with him much, but what his aunt did is her own business.

Thomas Watson Sr. still managed to found IBM after being sentenced to a year in jail for anti-trust violations as an NCR salesperson. Chesa Boudin got elected as San Francisco DA even though his parents were sentenced to prison for the felony murders of two police officers. Hell, he's a good example of someone who takes the side of criminals accused of petty theft or small-scale drug crimes.

I think there's some small subset of Americans who are Law & Order at all costs, but most people tend to have their own moral judgments about which are just and unjust laws, and they don't judge people harshly (or at all) for being accused of breaking unjust laws. Most people wouldn't take the side of a murderer or child predator. But a drug user or illegal immigrant? Lots of people take their side, even if they aren't one themselves.

Very good points!

What a great summary.

Having lived in many countries and born in India, I have actually come to respect these outlaws. Now, that does not mean you gotta love all criminals but without the healthy disrespect for authorities and skepticism of government agencies no society can actually improve. Nearly all women's rights and civil rights movements had government agencies as their greatest opponents.

I think the government has learned the lesson post MLK, Rosa Parks incident. The cost of pull of a Rosa Parks like stunt is very very high today. Not only you go to jail pretty quickly in a violent manner, your mugshots appears everywhere on internet, you might lose your job, rental property and low credit score. more importantly your neighbor and friends will hate you for being a criminal without even bothering what crime you did.

A classic case is of people who left water for illegal border crossers. It was illegal and yet a great gesture, the right thing to do. But if you have felony against your name, you life is permanently ruined. As a job interviewer you might actually hold such action in high regard but the resume is not going to reach your desk.

The worst part of that argument is that it's completely irrelevant. Even if the police had video of George Floyd killing people, it would still be completely illegal for them to kill him during the arrest.

And had Floyd been some manner of criminal kingpin or mass murderer, it would have been even more important to bring him to justice by correctly arresting him (not killing him before a trial can occur). To say nothing of that such criminals often reveal further important details of their crimes after they're arrested, and or convicted.

That fact that we have to even make this argument is sad. This should be super obvious. Demands to hold police accountable for their actions as absolutely nothing to do with how evil George Floyd might have been.

Somewhere around half of American men have an arrest record. Not sure about convictions. Certainly half of the Black men, particularly those who grew up in a large city, have been arrested. Not sure about convictions. The other half seems to live in ignorance.

Source? I see 1/3rd but that depends on your definition. https://www.politifact.com/factchecks/2017/aug/18/andrew-cuo...

"The FBI only counts those with a misdemeanor if a state agency asks the bureau to keep it on file."

In other words, it's significantly higher than the numbers the FBI claims.

And in no event should the seized money benefit the enforcement agency itself. What an absurd conflict of interest.

This has been a huge problem at the state, county, and municipality level, for many years. John Oliver did a piece about it, a few years ago[0].

Some places actually create budgets, based on forfeiture. There's a town in Texas, that basically set themselves up as "highwaymen"[1] (Would have been ironic, if the town was named "Turpin").

Gives a whole new meaning to "Quota Night."

I remember reading about a person around these parts, that was unable to get their property back, after they were cleared, because the police department had already sold it.

[0] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3kEpZWGgJks

[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tenaha,_Texas#Asset_forfeiture...

I think New Mexico was actually the state with the reputation. So much so that I think they recently passed a law to help fix it.

US systems of authority often specialize in conflicts of interest. I think it's obviously by design, both sides ride the gravy train (govt / private sector). The FDA gets ~46% ($2.7b of $5.9b for 2019) of its operational funding from the pharma industry. The telecom industry and FCC exchange employees routinely, as do Wall Street and the Treasury & Fed. The specialization makes sense, however these prominent figures, so primed for conflict of interest, should clearly be barred from doing that for N time (5-10 years at least).

Seizures shouldn't be a thing at all unless a conviction has been nailed down, and even then, proof must be made for every cent seized having been made through illicit means. No proof? No forfeiture.

I understand why it was implemented, but it has been abused so widely and for so long that it must stop. It has stopped being a tool for law enforcement to being a tool to coerce defendants and the innocent alike.

> proof must be made for every cent seized having been made through illicit means.

The counter-argument is that if that money was used to generate more funds legally, is that other money not tainted?

Say you make $10 million selling drugs, and use that to invest in housing in an area, and the money doubled over a few years. If you sell all those houses and now have $20 million in the bank, how much of that is funds available because of illicit behavior? $0, $10 million, or $20 million?

I agree the current system is stupid, and often abusive, but I don't think it's necessarily a simple problem.

Banks are regulated and want a proof of the origin of the money. In Europe even car dealers or jewellery shop want it. Because otherwise it would be money laundering. Of course it is hard to provide a proof if you have the money in your pocket.

That doesn't actually affect the problem at all. If the money is laundered, it's still illicit. The question is if you invest illicit money to make more money, how much is illicit? Some people (and the U.S. government) would say all of it, and probably take anything else as well because they don't like to spend time to make sure they're only taking illicit funds (and it's not in their best interest to do so).

So, say you have $10 million after laundering it through a business, and that's used to invest in housing, and that doubles, and later the government identifies all of that original $10 million as illicit because they've identified your laundering method. They are going to attempt to take everything gained, the whole $20 million, under the theory that it was all proceeds of your illicit behavior.

The problem is, what if you already had $1 million dollars free and clear from a settlement or something, and you used that as well, so $11 million was invested and $22 million resulted? Is the government going to take $20 million and leave you $2 million? Doubtful. Should they? That's an interesting question, and depending on how people view the laws involved, 4th amendment rights, and the purpose of the seizing of money, they might come down on different sides of that question.

HBC is in Europe, correct? I find the argument that money laundering is frowned upon hard to believe.

They were basically offering money laundering as a service as recently as ten years ago. And given how long those court arguments likely take that's recent enough.


I've always seen this as a tacit acknowledgement of how the justice system actually works. The cops know that if you have the money for a good lawyer you have a much better chance of avoiding punishment regardless of the facts of the case. If you need to increase your conviction rate the best way is to go after people who are going to have to use a public defender even though in terms of actual damage to society the rich offenders are far worse criminals.

Yes. Because the objective is no more keeping your community safe but objective is to flood the jails and convince voters that "we are tough on crime".

In an ideal world, seizures wouldn't happen and people would be prosecuted instead of the money. Moreover, government types like the FBI would be super squeaky clean types who cross every i with a dot.

They would also work to prosecute less people every year, no more than needed.

The best part is no part.

Seizures shouldn't happen without conviction in the less than ideal world we actually do live in.

Both of you are saying the same thing. The difference is criminal vs civil forfeiture. Criminal already works as an escrow system (sort of, the feds might not have been able to find what they want to seize before the conviction). Civil doesn't in that it doesn't require a conviction.

Civil has its own benefits though.. That famous "Civil asset forfeitures overshadow the value of all thefts" infographic from a few years back was only the case because the Feds took all of Bernie Madoff's funds via civil asset forfeiture and then gave those billions of dollars back to his victims. Had they waited for the criminal cases to play out, it would've been years before they saw their money.

> Had they waited for the criminal cases to play out, it would've been years before they saw their money.

They could have sued directly in civil court without waiting for the criminal cases to play out. If the Feds have enough evidence to justify foregoing, you know, actual trials and immediately redistribute the assets to the victims then any court cases should be trivial formalities and quickly resolved. On the other hand, if it actually does take years to determine guilt then maybe the Feds shouldn't be so quick to apply the sentence before the trial.

It doesn't matter if something is good when it's in blatant violation of the law of the land (the 4th amendment, particularly).

There is a significant distinction between the government declaring that money (/other goods) is another party's property and returning possession to the rightful owner (ie equity), and the government declaring that something was earned through an illegal activity and thereby transferring it to themselves (ie taking).

Sure, but both are under the flag of Civil Asset Forfeiture. We should definitely make it so corrupt departments aren't funding themselves with spurious CAF, but it's useful to acknowledge that many use cases of CAF make complete sense and provide a public good.

Giving the government a way to cheat will definitely create some good results. But that doesn't mean having the way to cheat is a good thing.

I noted a clear distinction for the case you listed. A traditional joint civil suit against Madoff would have done the exact same thing with a similar amount of process. It's true that access to our legal system is way too expensive in general, but creating a backdoor for the government and hoping they will use it to help private citizens is not the way to fix that.

I left that out but yes, with an actual proof of guilt or VERY STRONG signal that the asset will be used in an imminent crime, and not just any crime but one that will cause actual harm to other persons.

Not "this looked fishy and is probably illegal so let's seize this person's assets".

> In an ideal world, seizures should be escrowed until a proof comes to light.

No: that deprives the person of their property, and their right to due process. (Not to mention the violations of the 4th covered in the article.) One should not need to prove one's own innocence to get their own stuff back.

I'll allow, under probable cause or a warrant, temporary seizures, but even that must have due process. The seizures in the article did not generally have either.

(I do sort of agree that, in the case the seizure was of an innocent person's belongings, that it be returned with interest. But that does not forgive/condone the human rights violations in TFA.)

> In an ideal world, seizures should be escrowed until a proof comes to light.

What?? In an ideal world a proof should be produced before anything is seized!

Hard to gather evidence if you first have to prove the crime.

You don't have to prove the crime, you have to show probable cause. Our society would function perfectly fine without government-sanctioned theft ^W^W^W civil asset forfeiture.

The person I was replying to mentioned proof, not probable cause. I agree with you, forfeiture is obviously wrong.

The person you were replying to mentioned proof as a prerequisite to receive seized assets from escrow, not as a prerequisite for seizing those assets and placing them in escrow.

No, that’s simply false. You don’t have to go far upthread to see it.

Here’s what they said:

> In an ideal world a proof should be produced before anything is seized!

In an ideal world, police would amass evidence of wrong doing _before_ seizing property.

Sure, but there's a season why these forfeiture laws, as terrible as they have turned out to be, came into being. The claim was that criminals with large assets who realized they were under investigation would do something to "squirrel away" their wealth, putting it out of reach if they were caught. The justification for the law(s) was to preemptively grab stuff to avoid this possibility.

I can live with seizing assets before conviction, even though it makes me uncomfortable in principle, but mass seizure of assets with a "guilty until proven innocent" policy is just beyond the pale. It's the next step now that we've accepted that we're all wiretapped, all the time. This needs to stop or the Bill of Rights means nothing.

The source of these laws were actually pretty pragmatic. The point was to help enforce custom duties on people that would never step foot in the country. Instead of trying to chase someone down in, for example, France, that didn't pay their customs duties (not really practical in the 19th century), they seized the ship and the contents of it.

> criminals with large assets who realized they were under investigation would do something to "squirrel away" their wealth

In cases of drivers with cash, this problem is solved by the police arresting the individual and holding the cash.

No need to seek an ideal world for shit like that not to happen. Just moving from USA to EU will do.

In this specific case, in an ideal world they should not be allowed to seize anything at all.

Indeed, from the article it sounds like they seized what they found then tried to justify it a posteriori and for this guy it seems that was only "god sniffed narcotics on bills".

To me this really reads as: "You have a safe deposit box, and we found cash in it, so you're a criminal and we have seized that cash.". That's ridiculous.

Nothing should be seized until a proper court has adjudicated such action.

"The right of the people to be secure in their ... effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause ... [and] particularly describing the ... things to be seized."

Escrow doesn't seem to address what happens if the seizure is needed to fund its release.

If it's a large enough amount, surely lawyers would work on contingency? Obviously that'd still miss a lot (the majority) of cases, but still.

"If it's a large enough amount, surely lawyers would work on contingency? Obviously that'd still miss a lot (the majority) of cases, but still."

Let's not create more cases where little guys get bullied around by the legal system because they can't afford to defend themselves. It's already the case that they can (and do) coerce people into pleading guilty for a BS indictment because they can't afford lawyers.

Frankly, there should be no situation where the government should be allowed to use its resources against an individual without that individual having access to representation. It's a right in the criminal realm and it's a damn shame that the government is using that (and charging inanimate objects) to get around those protections.

People think they have rights, until the system decides you're an outsider and tramples all over you to the applause of the society (the in group).

You won't find a lawyer willing to take on a case of this nature.

LEO use this as a tactic to deprive defendant's ability to fund their own defense.

>"entity who did the seizure should pay interest along with the restitution"

And punitive damages, maybe then they'll have at least couple of brain cells dedicated to checking if they actually have any case against someone's money.

In an ideal world the government wouldn’t seize assets until there’s a conviction.

And that interest should be something draconian, like what payday lenders charge. If your money gets tied up for years, it ought to come back doubled.

I'm somewhat amused by this investment vehicle you've proposed. Hire a sketchy-looking dude in a van missing a taillight to courier your cash. He gets popped, but isn't doing anything illegal, maybe has a pre-rolled joint in the glove box, so they seize your cash. Every day it's tied up, you're getting serious returns. Eventually, submit the courier contract to prove that the cash wasn't being used for crimes, and reap that interest.

I see this cop-baiting practice getting criminalized long before civil forfeiture.

One is real and happening right now and the other is something you've imagined.

This is all in the context of a hypothetical policy, yes. Credit to RIMR's imagination, not mine. My corollary here is that it probably won't happen, in part, because of shenanigans.

I know this thread is a week old, but the nonsense about the arrested-courier-for-hire was entirely the product of your imagination, not mine. I don't even know how you logically arrived at that conclusion.

Who should pay for that? Taxpayers?

Yes. Taxpayers, voters, citizens. Theirs is the government money, and if the government does something bad, they need to compensate. Don’t like it? Put your rights in motion until these things don’t happen.

> Theirs is the government money, and if the government does something bad, they need to compensate.

Theirs is the money the government takes. Taxpayers (as such) are fellow victims. Voters may have supported the government's actions or opposed them—would you punish the opposition, who are on the victim's side, merely for not having sufficient numbers to prevent it?

The government claims to act on behalf of taxpayers / voters / citizens, but (once elected, if applicable) they make their own decisions about the form of that action; there is no agent/principal relationship here where the principals (citizens) would have specific knowledge of and control over the actions of their agent (the government). If people in the government choose to do something bad then those specific people need to compensate the victims; the fact that they claim, unilaterally, to be acting for someone else does not in any way deflect their personal liability for the consequences of their own choices.

Those who are most directly responsibly for the illegitimate seizures should bear the majority of the cost. That would be the individual officers who carried out the seizure, their superiors at the police department and in the state and federal government, and any judges who sign off on warrants which are later ruled invalid.

So long as the police line their coffers with forfeitures, they should pay whatever associated costs. If this isn't profitable enough for them, too bad.

You are attacking the problem on the wrong side. They should have never been able to profit from that.

Why not attack on both sides? I absolutely agree that they should never have been able to profit from that. But, while we work on removing their ability to profit from it, why not also make it less profitable when they abuse it?

Fair point! Makes absolute sense for me.

Agreed, but I'm entertaining the notion that civil forfeiture remains legal.

Yes. Its "our" justice system. The liabilities and costs go along with the benefits.

The police departments should pay for that. And they should be privately funded, so that the payments come out of their profits.

forget interest. Treble damages.

apparently RICO provides for civil cause of action. Would love to see an adventurous civil rights lawyer sue law enforcement under the civil provisions of RICO.

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