Pubdate: Wed, 03 Nov 2004
Source: Calgary Herald (CN AB)
Copyright: 2004 Calgary Herald
Author: Susanna Harding


Crime - Re: "New tool to fight crime," Oct. 25.

I lived once in a place that has civil forfeiture laws, based on an
old admiralty law in which the thing itself is accused of the
wrongdoing. In that country, the police can and will confiscate your
car, your house, your life savings and anything else based on no more
than an allegation of such heinous crimes as "improper lane usage"
(Alabama, 1999). They must prove nothing to effect the forfeiture; you
must prove a negative, that no such crime took place.

The police are entitled to keep, for their own use, a portion of what
they confiscate. That such civil forfeitures are carried out for
reasons of career enhancement or personal gain should be obvious, and
it has led to widespread corruption in that country's law enforcement

There are sound reasons why it is so difficult for the Crown to obtain
a criminal conviction and thus the right to confiscate property.

While I desire to see the crime rate as low as reasonably achievable,
I warn against civil forfeiture, given the corrosive effect it has on
the justice system. I have seen it in action.

Susanna Harding, Calgary
- ---
MAP posted-by: Larry Seguin