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ban on civil asset forfeiture

Canadian County, OK — An Oklahoma sheriff issued a string of misleading statements on Monday while criticizing a bill that would reign in the state’s abuse of civil asset forfeiture. Canadian County Sheriff Randall R. Edwards suggested that there is no violation of constitutional rights when authorities seize cash and property over alleged drug offenses, even when the person is not convicted of a crime.

State Senator Kyle Loveless recently introduced a bill that would bar authorities from seizing money or property unless the suspect is convicted. He was prompted by the discovery that funds and property had been misspent or gone missing in several different cases.

Among the violations were using seized money to pay on a prosecutor’s student loans and allowing a prosecutor to live rent-free in a confiscated house for years, records show.

Edwards dismissed these abuses as “a few bad apples” and glorified the War on Drugs, which has allowed for the creation of an unbridled extortion scheme known as civil asset forfeiture.

We’re taking the (drug) cartels’ money off the highway and using it to fight the cartels. I don’t know if we’ll ever beat the war on drugs, if we’ll ever be able to win it, but we’re certainly keeping it in check to where it isn’t as bad as it would be without law enforcement.

Unthinking foot soldiers are quick to defend the assault on human rights known as the War on Drugs—a blight in human history that has put millions of innocent people in cages and stolen billions of their dollars.

Edwards bluntly stated, “We’re not violating your Fourth Amendment rights” by seizing cash and property from alleged drug dealers, even when they are never convicted of a crime.

A study by the Arizona Law Review shows this statement for the falsehood it is.

“Today’s civil asset forfeiture system also raises several constitutional issues. First, the potential for law enforcement to operate independently of the political process may violate the Constitution’s Appropriations Clause. Second, a federally created forfeiture tool called “equitable sharing” effectively permits state and local law enforcement to bypass states’ attempts to mandate how proceeds are disbursed, raising federalism concerns. Finally, the increasingly popular use of waivers—whereby the police offer property owners the choice of avoiding criminal charges in exchange for their property—means owners are deprived of the chance to challenge the forfeiture in a proceeding. Agencies that use waivers bypass civil asset forfeiture laws and deprive owners of the protections they provide, raising serious due process concerns.”

It’s no wonder Edwards is becoming hysterical over the idea that he could lose his cash cow. Sheriff’s offices in the US received about $178 million in one year alone, according to Drug War Facts. At the federal level, US attorneys have “recovered” over $12 billion through asset forfeiture.

While Edwards’ assertions are sheer lunacy, he is consistent across the board. Edwards is ironically a member of the Oklahoma Oath Keepers. Over the weekend, he called for those who burn or fly another flag, other than the US flag, to be imprisoned. He also called for the deportation of those who don’t worship the warfare state.

In the video below, Edwards discredits himself even further by hilariously saying that Mike Brown beat Darren Wilson “half to death.” Whatever you actually believe about either side of that story, one thing is certain, a rose-colored mark on your cheek does not constitute being beaten half to death.

Informed people present at the meeting challenged Edwards’ rhetoric, and some even walked out.

State Representative Bobby Cleveland suggested that people should not have to spend money on an attorney and go through court proceedings to get their property back, saying, “What I don’t support is a person who is perfectly innocent having to spend money to get their own money back.

Edwards could not even support this very reasonable position, saying it would put too much power in one person’s hands. The sheriff believes that citizens should cringe under the power of the State and be thankful for whatever crumbs fall their way. He is a noble sentinel of the law, protecting the good citizens from scoundrels who would poison humanity with illicit substances.

It physically made me feel ill to see people of your stature – salt of the earth people … buy into what the senator is saying. I can tell you right now, law enforcement is your friend,” says Edwards.

Civil asset forfeiture may represent everything that is wrong with a maniacal State drunk with power and money. Since its creation almost 30 years ago, it has trampled over Constitutional rights to swell the revenues of law enforcement.

Studies referenced by Drug War Facts illustrate this point.

“During the past decade, law enforcement agencies increasingly have turned to asset seizures and drug enforcement grants to compensate for budgetary shortfalls, at the expense of other criminal justice goals. We believe the strange shape of the criminal justice system today—the law enforcement agenda that targets assets rather than crime, the 80 percent of seizures that are unaccompanied by any criminal prosecution, the plea bargains that favor drug kingpins and penalize the “mules” without assets to trade, the reverse stings that target drug buyers rather than drug sellers, the overkill in agencies involved even in minor arrests, the massive shift towards federal jurisdiction over local law enforcement—is largely the unplanned by-product of this economic incentive structure.”

“In general, however, the powerful incentives for profit-seeking found within forfeiture current laws is criticized as encouraging inappropriate enforcement activities and detracting from the proper role of law enforcement within a democratic state. The dependency of the police on public resources for their operations is an important check on police power. Self-generating revenues by the police through forfeiture potentially threatens the ability of popularly elected officials to constrain police activities.”


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