Pubdate: Mon, 01 Nov 2004
Source: Muskogee Daily Phoenix (OK)
Copyright: C2004 Muskogee Daily Phoenix
Author: Robert Sharpe
Bookmark: (Asset Forfeiture)


Regarding your Oct. 22 editorial on Muskogee County District Attorney
John David Luton's mishandling of seized property, The financial
incentives created by civil asset forfeiture laws create a dangerous
precedent. Police can confiscate cars, cash and homes without
bothering to charge owners with a crime. Vague allegations of drug
trafficking don't justify turning what should be protectors of the
peace into financial predators. The drug war threatens the integrity
of a country founded on the concept of limited government.

Police searches on public transit, drug-sniffing dogs in schools and
random drug testing have led to a loss of civil liberties, while
failing miserably at preventing drug use. Based on findings that
criminal records are inappropriate as health interventions, a majority
of European Union countries have decriminalized marijuana. Despite
marijuana prohibition and perhaps because of forbidden fruit appeal,
lifetime use of marijuana is higher in the United States than any
European country.

The United States now has the highest incarceration rate in the world,
in large part due to the war on some drugs. At an average cost of
$26,134 per inmate annually, maintaining the world's largest prison
system can hardly be considered fiscally conservative. It's not
possible to wage a moralistic war against consensual vices unless
privacy is completely eliminated, along with the Constitution. America
can be a free country or a "drug-free" country, but not both.

The results of a comparative study of European and U.S. rates of drug
use can be found at

Robert Sharpe, MPA policy analyst

Common Sense for Drug Policy

Washington, D.C.
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