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Scandelous Missouri over forfeiture laws

 
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Lilli
Cannabis Sacrament Minister
Cannabis Sacrament Minister


Joined: 12 Dec 2003
Posts: 3371

PostPosted: Sun Feb 15, 2004 11:01 am    Post subject: Scandelous Missouri over forfeiture laws Reply with quote

Forfeiture Scandal in Missouri

Lawmakers in Missouri are scrambling to revise the state's rules about police handling of assets seized in drug cases, after a five-part expose in the Kansas City Star earlier this month alleged that local police were diverting millions of dollars in seized cash and other assets that were supposed to go into the state's school coffers. Under Missouri's civil forfeiture laws, forfeited assets must be turned over to public schools. But according to the Star story, Missouri police have made prodigious use of a loophole in the law which allows them to turn the assets over to federal law enforcement agencies, which as a rule return 80-90% of the money to the local police. The Star said it was unable to confirm the precise amount of money siphoned off from schools in this manner, because both local and federal law enforcement agencies refuse to release exact figures. But the paper trail the Star was able to assemble from police reports, as well as from court documents in cases where school districts have sued their local police departments to recover the funds, has led their estimates to millions, perhaps tens of millions of dollars.

Response from the state legislature was as varied as it was immediate. One proposal would prohibit police from turning over any seized assets to federal agencies, while another bill proposes to cut the feds out of the picture but allow the police to keep all of the money. Many legislators are supporting a bill that would split the take between schools and police 50-50. State Representative Craig Hosmer (D-Springfield) was quoted by the Star as saying that educators who had resisted such a compromise in the past were beginning to warm to the idea because they realize that "fifty percent is better than nothing."

DRCNet spoke with Tom Gordon, president of Forfeiture Endangers American Rights (FEAR), who said the police behavior described in the Star story is "typical" of police agencies involved with civil forfeiture. "It's ironic that the law enforcement agencies claim to be going after people for crimes such as money laundering, when that's essentially what the police are doing themselves with the assets they seize. Their behavior is strikingly similar to organized crime, where the money is taken by force and then laundered through the federal government, which retains a processing fee but otherwise hands them back the cash free and clear. Then you have the state legislature acting like a crime victim on behalf of its citizens, trying to bribe the police by saying 'we'll give you fifty percent' in order to get what their schools are legally entitled to. It's like they're offering to pay protection money."

It is unclear who will prevail in Missouri. Some law enforcement representatives have said they will fight any plan that nets them less than what they get now from the DEA and the FBI, but the Star's expose has already become a public relations nightmare for the police, both for the specifics of the case in Missouri and for the attention it draws to civil forfeiture in general. "Hopefully," says Gordon, "this will result in a lot of information becoming public as citizens become outraged at these abuses by the police."

Learn more about civil forfeiture at the FEAR web site, http://www.fear.org. Read the Kansas City Star story at http://www.kcstar.com/projects/drugforfeit/. Tom Gordon has been interviewed for this week's Drug Reform Coordination Network News radio show, online at http://www.drcnet.org/drcnn/ from late Friday afternoon.
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Lord Help me to remember that nothing is going to happen to me today that YOU and I together cannot handle.
http://www.missouri-thc-ministries.tk
" I pass to you the torch that Christ once passed to me,others are still in the dark an need the light to see"
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Lilli
Cannabis Sacrament Minister
Cannabis Sacrament Minister


Joined: 12 Dec 2003
Posts: 3371

PostPosted: Sun Feb 15, 2004 11:20 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Last year this happened here.
Missouri – Proposition 1 will be on Missouri’s April 8 ballot. Prop. 1 would require that marijuana possession charges of 35 grams (approx. 1 1/8 ounce) or less be dismissed. First offenders would be given a $25 fine. Prop. 1 would also require that the case be sent to municipal court instead of state. A poll taken by The Columbia Alliance for Patient Education in late March asked voters how they’d vote. Out of 523 subjects, 45% favored Proposition 1; 40% said they’re against it; 15% were undecided
_________________
"Today I choose to be happy. Today nothing will bother me. Today I'll have a great day!"
Lord Help me to remember that nothing is going to happen to me today that YOU and I together cannot handle.
http://www.missouri-thc-ministries.tk
" I pass to you the torch that Christ once passed to me,others are still in the dark an need the light to see"
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