Pubdate: Fri, 03 Mar 2000
Date: 03/03/2000
Source: New York Times (NY)
Author: Alfred Blumstein
Authors: Alfred Blumstein
Note: subjectline by MAP

To the Editor:

"Forfeitures and Fairness" (editorial, Feb. 28), which appropriately
called for tightening federal asset-forfeiture policies, noted the
"impetus for abuse" when seized assets are shared with local police.

There is certainly risk of misappropriation when there is no
accountability, but there is another effect.

Most individuals and organizations want more resources, so they engage
in activities that will provide them. This could shift the focus of
law enforcement toward drug dealers and their assets, and away from
duties that don't result in bounties - like arresting robbers and
rapists and building connections with the community.

We can avoid this distortion by requiring that assets go into a
general fund, rather than to the police and prosecutors. This should
be incorporated into pending legislation.

Alfred Blumstein,
Pittsburgh, Feb. 29, 2000

Note: Alfred Blumstein is a professor of operations research, Carnegie
Mellon University.