Pubdate: Wed, 21 Jun 2000
Date: 06/21/2000
Source: Northwest Arkansas Times (AR)
Author: Quincy R. Jackson

To the editor:

The paradox; thus the quandary. Forfeiture of property in drug-related
criminal operations sounds eminently fair in cases like the Bella
Vista drug bust. The Benton County Sheriff's Department, investigating
a Bella Vista residence after Bank of Bentonville officials' reports
of large cash deposits and bills smelling of ether, found what they
call the most sophisticated marijuana growing operation they've ever
seen. They also found and confiscated a boat, motorcycles, ATVs, guns
and other of the trappings of illicit wealth.

Sheriff Andy Lee said, "It's not every day we walk into a case that
has the potential for a couple hundred thousand dollars in
forfeitures." Big money in anybody's definition. This (alleged) dope
grower was living the high life off the proceeds of the pot that finds
it way into our schools, and is the kind of case for which you'd like
to see society resurrect the old punishment whereby the local
citizenry beats the hell out of the crook, tars and feathers him and
rides him out of town on a rail.

But the law has other ideas and those include incarceration and
forfeiture. The problem with forfeiture is that law enforcement is
also benefiting from the illegal drug trade, albeit from the opposite
side of the spectrum. It sounds like a good idea. More funds for
investigation and enforcement.

But when there is this kind of treasure trove available to underfunded
and overburdened cops, where is the incentive to eradicate the
criminal activity from whence it flows? It's not a simple problem with
a simple solution but the bottom line, dear hearts, is that what we're
doing ain't working.

Quincy R. Jackson,