Pubdate: Wed, 02 Oct 2002
Source: Clarion-Ledger, The (MS)
Copyright: 2002 The Clarion-Ledger
Author: Robert Sharpe


According to an article on the North Mississippi Narcotics Unit 
("Pontotoc's sheriff may quit drug unit," Sept. 22): "When members of the 
unit make a drug-related property or cash seizure, the items are turned 
over to the unit."

The financial incentives created by civil asset forfeiture laws create a 
very dangerous precedent. Police can legally confiscate cars, cash and 
homes without even bothering to charge owners with a crime.

This is a clear abuse of power.

Vague allegations of drug trafficking hardly justify turning protectors of 
the peace into financial predators.

The United States now has the highest incarceration rate in the world, in 
large part due to the war on some drugs.

At an average cost of $25,071 per inmate annually, maintaining the world's 
largest prison system can hardly be considered fiscally conservative.

It's not possible to wage a moralistic war against consensual vices unless 
privacy is completely eliminated, along with the Constitution.

America can either be a free country or a "drug-free" country, but not both.

Robert Sharpe Program officer Drug Policy Alliance Washington, D.C.
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