Pubdate: Fri, 19 Mar 1999
Source: Standard-Times (MA)
Copyright: 1999 The Standard-Times
Author:  Gerald M. Sutliff


Your March 16 editorial, "Police, prosecutors don't have sole claim to
drug forfeiture proceeds" is truly excellent. You ask many of the
right questions. May I add the following comments:

Your editorial reflects the sad fact that asset forfeiture can lead to
official corruption, if not of the officials, of their goals.

Forfeiture programs are intended to make the police narcotics units
self-supporting. From there it is an easy step for the narc units to
allocate resources based on potential income rather than stopping drug
trafficking. Consider this: Narc units don't get money from seizing
two kilos of high-grade heroin (not legally, anyway) but if they bide
their time they can seize the proceeds of its sale, i.e. the cash,
house, boat and car. Why do you think it takes two years to shut down
a crack house every body in the neighborhood knows about?

Drug forfeiture laws cause the narc units, in effect, to become
privateers whose self-interest mitigates against demand reduction.

You noted the decline in property crimes could be because the price of
heroin is down. If true, it follows that treatment of addicts,
including providing heroin to the patients (where medically
necessary), would be the most effective way to reclaim our streets and
secure our property.

Emeryville, CA
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