The whole point of free speech is not to make ideas exempt from criticism but to expose them to it.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Stash the cash, man

It has for at least ten years been a common practice in many jurisdictions, primarily in former slave-owning states, for cops to stop motorists, primarily of darker skin, and seize cash from them even though there is no evidence of a crime. In many of these cases, the victim is given the opportunity to sign a waiver of intent to fight the case in return for being returned part of the cash.

Authorities have defended the practice as being part of defending their jurisdictions against illegal drug purveyors.

I have attempted on various occasions to insert these facts into editorials for various newspapers. The editorials have been rejected as being undocumented, despite the fact that I provided documentation. These same newspapers print undocumented allegations against people provided by law enforcement on a daily basis.

According to a story in The Dallas Morning News, a lawsuit has been filed by the ACLU in Texas against Shelby County District Attorney Lynda K. Russell, Deputy Sheriff Barry Washington and other county officials based on an incident wherein Washington stopped motorist James Morrow for driving too close to the white line. Searching the car and finding nothing except $3900, which Morrow produced after being asked if he had any cash, Washington seized the cash and took Morrow to the jail where "other authorities" threatened to prosecute Morrow for money laundering if he complained.

What's remarkable in this case is that Texas and Shelby County have both declined to provide defense funding for the defendants. Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott also denied them the ability to use cash from the money they have stolen from motorists to defend themselves. DA Russell says she has been "left high and dry by the system she has given her life to."

Really, in a time of tightening budgets, why shouldn't law enforcement be able to assess taxes on a case by case basis against folks who will probably only spend their money foolishly anyway?


larry kurtz said...

Craigslist is great place to voice frustration with South Dakota's endemic selective enforcement; musicians' boards in the NW hear us. I-90 is a killing field.


Anonymous said...

Completely outrageous... makes me wonder how it got that way to start with.

Would you put up with that kind of theft by law enforcement here in SD? (I mean is such an overtly visible manner anyway...)

Michael Sanborn said...

The sad part here is that no criminal charges appear to be forthcoming. This is a civil case initiated by the ACLU. And, no fellow conservatives, I don't believe the ACLU is always a wonderful organization...but here is a case where they appear to be on the correct side of things.

As for similar stuff happening in South Dakota, take a look at what people have to do to get their vehicles returned if they are found with a marijuana seed.

Anonymous said...

Good news.
Minneapolis has seen the light.
Minneapolis disbanded the police narcotics unit. It was redundant, therefore expensive policing.