Pubdate: Wed, 21 Jun 2000
Source: Northwest Arkansas Times (AR)
Copyright: 2000 Community Publishers Inc.
Contact:  212 N. East Ave., P.O. Box 1607 Fayetteville, AR 72702
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, Rogers
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