Pubdate: Tue, 01 Nov 2005
Source: Victoria Times-Colonist (CN BC)
Copyright: 2005 Times Colonist
Author: David Rumsey


Re: Les Leyne's "They're getting tougher on criminals," Oct 25.

It's frightening to see the Campbell government adopt the kind of
heavy-handed legislation that U.S. Republicans are so famous for.
Their latest proposal is the Civil Forfeiture Act, which is a copy-cat
version of the original Search and Seizure law from the Reagan
administration's "War on Drugs."

The now-infamous U.S. law was a way to encourage local police
authorities to pursue suspected drug dealers in their communities by
offering the police departments a share of the spoils of any such seizures.

Similar to the bill before the B.C. legislature, the law allowed for
the seizure without a clear conviction, and the assets did not need to
be returned even if the charges were dropped. The seized goods were
usually sold by the time the case came to court.

This created a dangerous profit motive for cash-starved police
departments that conducted sweeps of "suspected criminals" in their
area to bolster payrolls. After more than 20 years and thousands of
wrongfully ruined lives, there is now an effort in the U.S. to
overturn this legislation based on its clear infraction of the
constitution's protection against unlawful search and seizure.

I support the efforts of the police and government to deal with the
problems of organized crime and drugs in this province, but trampling
on the rights of our citizens with ill-conceived, dangerous
legislation such as the "Civil Forfeiture Act" is not the way to go.

David Rumsey

Oak Bay
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