Saturday, June 14, 2014

Civil Forfeitures as a Step Toward A Police State in America

With very little attention from the media or the courts, budget-stressed police departments in the US are resorting to confiscations of property through so-called “civil forfeiture” procedures, which amount to serious violations of Constitutional rights. Worse still, the Supreme Court has recently sanctioned civil forfeitures in criminal cases—even when law enforcement has not attained a conviction of the party to be expropriated.

For elaboration on the history, trajectory, and dangers of the phenomenon of civil forfeiture and some other governmental transgressions against Constitutional rights, Radio VR’s David Kerans spoke with Washington Times columnist Cheryl Chumley, author of Police State USA: How Orwell’s Nightmare is Becoming Our Reality.

Chumley explained that the federal government instituted civil forfeiture procedures more than two decades ago, in the context of fighting organized crime (especially narcotics trafficking), but the practice only gathered momentum lately. The veneer of the “War on Drugs” still covers civil forfeitures today, which helps law enforcement organizations to fleece citizens without significant outcries in the media.

Chumley also explained that the road to redress from civil forfeitures is decidedly uphill for citizens, and that even when courts rule in favor of affected parties they do not enjoin police to desist from the practice henceforth. The ACLU and other watchdogs are paying attention, but so far the phenomenon of civil forfeiture continues to expand. The fact that it fleshes out police department budgets is not irrelevant, as Chumley reminded us.

Chumley also lamented the expansion of NSA surveillance on the US population, which does so much to undermine the rights of privacy and freedom of association.

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