Sad symbolism

A couple of centuries ago, some fairly wise fellows gathered in Philadelphia to hammer out a document that, once augmented by the Bill of Rights, quite clearly enumerated protections of the liberties Americans had so recently won.  Those protections include a presumption of innocence until proven guilty, and restraints on the ability of the State to simply seize what it wants.

Sadly, the Founders wouldn’t recognize Philly today:

Under civil forfeiture, property owners do not have to be convicted of a crime, or even charged with one, to permanently lose their property. Instead, the government can forfeit a property if it’s found to “facilitate” a crime, no matter how tenuous the connection…

Philadelphia law enforcement has transformed a once obscure legal process into a racket that treats Americans as little more than ATMs. Every year, the city collects almost $6 million in revenue from forfeiture. According to data collected by the Institute for Justice, between 2002 and 2012, the Philadelphia District Attorney’s Office seized and forfeited over 3,000 vehicles, nearly 1,200 homes and other real estate properties and $44 million in cash…

Civil forfeiture is a nationwide problem. ((That’s an understatement — Jemison))  But the scale and scope of Philadelphia’s forfeiture machine is practically unrivaled on the municipal level…

Incredibly, property owners battling civil forfeiture have fewer rights than those actually accused of committing a crime. Unlike in criminal cases, the government does not need to prove “beyond a reasonable doubt” to prevail. Instead, once prosecutors show merely that there was a link between a property and some alleged criminal activity owners must prove their innocence. Moreover, since these cases are in civil court, owners facing forfeiture do not have a right to an attorney.

Read the whole thing, and check out the links to additional information about this organized plundering known as civil forfeiture.

Land of the free?  This is not the country you are looking for…



One thought on “Sad symbolism

  1. Pingback: A tale of two countries | A True Progressive

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