Taken: The Use and Abuse of Civil Forfeiture

Now happening in America: Police are using civil forfeiture laws to take money and property from people who haven’t been charged with a crime—and police even allegedly threatened to take their children away if they didn’t comply. In the Texas town of Tenaha, police pulled over drivers and used the roadside seizures to fund an assortment of unrelated items:

“More revelatory was a nine-page spreadsheet listing items funded by Tenaha’s roadside seizures. Among them were Halloween costumes, Doo Dah Parade decorations, ‘Have a Nice Day’ banners, credit-card late fees, poultry-festival supplies, a popcorn machine, and a thousand-dollar donation to a Baptist congregation that was said to be important to Lynda Russell’s reëlection. Barry Washington, as deputy city marshal, received a ten-thousand-dollar personal bonus from the fund. (His base salary was about thirty thousand dollars; Garrigan later confirmed reports that Washington had received a total of forty thousand dollars in bonuses.)”

Source: The New Yorker
Published: Aug 5, 2013
Length: 45 minutes (11,405 words)
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