Caught With Weed? Some Dallas Councilmembers Want to Seize Your Car
If you’re not familiar with Tenaha, Texas, go back and read this The New Yorker piece from August detailing how police and prosecutors in the tiny East Texas town used civil forfeiture laws and a phantom suspicion of drugs to seize cars, cash, jewelry and anything else they could find from innocent travelers passing through on U.S. 59. The level and audacity of the abuse is stunning.
Tenaha, a town that effectively devoted itself to robbing passing motorists, offers an extreme example, but the abuse of civil forfeiture laws is common. Intended as a way to target drug dealers and other suspected criminals who haven’t necessarily been charged with or convicted of a crime, there is very little oversight at the state level at how they are employed. The result is plenty of cases like that of Mary and Leon Adams, an elderly couple in West Philadelphia whose home was being seized after after their adult son was caught selling small quantities of weed there, according to The New Yorker.
The takeaway is that civil forfeiture laws need to be reformed so that they are applied judiciously.
Some on the Dallas City Council seem intent on heading in the opposite direction. At a briefing this morning, Public Safety Committee chair Sheffie Kadane wondered why business owners aren’t punished when police catch someone doing or selling drugs at a bar or restaurant. Read more
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