Police Learn Hard Lesson in Absurdity of Asset Forfeiture

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    In the world of public policy, it’s very easy to make fun of politicians (especially Barack ObamaDonald TrumpHillary ClintonBernie Sanders, and Elizabeth Warren).

    Image Credit: Twitter

    And there are plenty of jokes about certain issues in the public arena, particularly the IRS, but also gun control and Brexit. And I have entire pages dedicated to libertarian humor and communism/socialism humor.

    But some topics are so grim that’s it’s not easy to laugh about them. There’s nothing funny about the horror of Venezuela, for instance, though there are examples of dark humor from that unfortunate nation.

    Another topic that doesn’t lend itself to laughs is the horrid practice of civil asset forfeiture. I’ve shared many nauseating stories about how governments literally steal property from people who have not been convicted of crimes (or, in many cases, have not even been accused of any crime).

    Here’s the latest absurd example, this time from Michigan.

    Nearly 400 people in Wayne County who were never charged with a crime still lost property to law enforcement agencies last year through a legal procedure called civil asset forfeiture… Altogether, there were 736 asset forfeiture proceedings in Michigan in 2017 during which someone lost property to the government despite never being charged with any crime; this happened 380 times in Wayne County. …Jarrett Skorup of the Mackinac Center for Public Policy, who co-authored a recent report on civil forfeiture, said…it’s likely that these forfeitures disproportionately affected low-income individuals, who are less able to afford an attorney or navigate the legal system to reclaim their property. Revenue obtained from forfeited property typically goes to the agency that seized the property.
    Yes, you read correctly. The agency that steals the property gets to keep the money, which is why the disgusting practice of civil asset forfeiture is sometimes known as “policing for profit.”

    If this sounds like the kind of behavior you’d find in a third-world banana republic, you’re right.

    Anyhow, is there any way we can find mirth and amusement in this reprehensible practice?

    Actually, courtesy of libertarian Reddit, there is.

    Kudos to the clever person who left this comment. Maybe the bureaucrats finally understand what it feels like to have property arbitrarily seized.

    I’m not quite ready to applaud the actual thief, however, since a speed trailer only notifies people how fast they’re traveling.

    If that person wants my praise, go after speed-trap cameras like this hero.

    P.S. There is an example of money-laundering humor, and it features a former President.

    This is a guest post by Dan Mitchell.