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Saturday, June 05, 2010

The debate over civil forfeiture

The Economist has a piece here about civil forfeiture, a process that police use to seize cars, homes and other property that was reportedly used in a crime. The magazine argues that protections against abuse are practically nonexistent:

But the safeguards are slender. For instance, police can find a wad of cash in a car, claim that the owner was planning to buy drugs with it, and then seize it. The evidence may be simply that a dog smelled drugs; yet one test found that a third of banknotes have traces of cocaine on them. 

Supporters, though, say abuse isn't common. And they argue that civil forfeiture is a useful tool for police because it lets them hit criminals financially and take away their resources.


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