Asset Forfeiture Gets Technological Boost

by Dave Blount | June 9, 2016 1:22 pm

Meanwhile, as we squabble over whether we want to be ruled by the authoritarian progressive wearing the orange pantsuit or the one with the orange face, Big Government keeps getting bigger. Among the most brazen abuses of power is asset forfeiture, which allows police to seize your property on the grounds that it might somehow be tied to a crime, without a conviction, warrant, or even arrest:

The most common form of property seized is cash. In fact, carrying large amounts of cash is now in and of itself viewed as suspicion of criminal activity. People who still do carry a lot of cash today have as much to fear from law enforcement as they do from criminals, particularly if they’re planning to fly or drive on a highway that passes through a “forfeiture corridor.”

One forfeiture corridor is the state of Oklahoma, where the practice has leapt into a totalitarian future with alarming new technology:

Now, the Oklahoma Highway Patrol has a device that also allows them to seize money in your bank account or on prepaid cards.

It’s called an ERAD, or Electronic Recovery and Access to Data machine, and state police began using 16 of them last month.

Here’s how it works. If a trooper suspects you may have money tied to some type of crime, the highway patrol can scan any cards you have and seize the money.

No worries. The authorities claim that if you can prove you “have a legitimate reason to have that money,” they will eventually give it back to you.

Talk about crony capitalism:

News 9 obtained a copy of the contract with the state.

It shows the state is paying ERAD Group Inc., $5,000 for the software and scanners, then 7.7 percent of all the cash the highway patrol seizes.

Asset forfeiture abuse is hardly new to Oklahoma:

[T]his is the same state where a district attorney was caught contracting forfeiture actions out to private company, including the authority to pull over motorists. Another prosecutor used forfeiture funds to pay off his student loans. Still another used the law to live rent-free in a seized house, despite a judge’s order to sell it. He also used forfeiture proceeds to pay his utility bills.

A report published last year found that of the $6 million seized by Oklahoma law enforcement agencies over the previous five years, two-thirds was taken from people who were never charged with a crime. The state received a “D” grade for its forfeiture polices by the libertarian advocacy law firm the Institute for Justice.

Next they will use the technology to max out credit cards unless you can prove that you have a “legitimate reason” to have such a high credit limit.

The text of the Fourth Amendment might be relevant here:

The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.

Then again, these days it might not be relevant at all.

Let’s have your wallet.

On a tip from JusttheTipHQ. Cross-posted at Moonbattery.

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