In the news lately thanks to our Southern-fried Attorney General, Jefferson Beauregard Sessions, is civil asset forfeiture. On the surface, the name makes it sound like “people willingly forfeiting the right to their stuff,” but in practice, this is one way our current system of law tends to criminalize poverty and “differences.” One unlikely-seeming ally for the poor in these situations is Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, who said:
These forfeiture operations frequently target the poor and other groups least able to defend their interests in forfeiture proceedings. … They are more likely to use cash than alternative forms of payment, like credit cards, which may be less susceptible to forfeiture. And they are more likely to suffer in their daily lives while they litigate for the return of a critical item of property, such as a car or a home.
Not only is this an unfair practice that allows law enforcement to use bully tactics to enrich their departments at the expense of the citizens they are technically sworn to “protect and serve,” it puts the burden on the person who has wrongfully had assets seized, requiring them to provide “proof” they did nothing wrong and try and get their stuff back (good luck with that, basically).
Jeff Sessions made the news this week by stating that he wants this practice expanded – this is in direct opposition to the ruling of the Supreme Court on the matter. You can read more about it from the Southern Poverty Law Center, and can also donate to them to help them fight these cases in court. The people being victimized in this way need all the help they can get.
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image credit Perlinator via Pixabay