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Re: Fulop: Cops should seize vehicles from drug buyers, johns
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Imagine similar legislation being passed in Jersey City?
The civil libertarians would be crying foul without understanding the full impact of what can go wrong.

It would be an eye-opener if individuals against such legislation, spent some time on a 'ride-along' with first responders (ambulance and police officers) to accidents when it is discovered the instigator was either drunk, effected by drugs or simply driving at excessive speed.

I still recall ALL the horror of such behaviour as a junior police officer, and the emotional empathy you share when you are required to knock on the door of a victims family.

I hope Mr. Fulop continues with his push for change.

http://www.theage.com.au/news/nationa ... 169209.html?s_cid=rss_age

Posted on: 2007/5/13 11:44
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War burns over car seizure plan
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War burns over car seizure plan

Thursday, April 19, 2007
By KEN THORBOURNE
JOURNAL STAFF WRITER

Downtown Jersey City Councilman Steve Fulop blasted Police Chief Tom Comey as a "political hack" early last week for raising questions about his proposal to seize the cars of "johns" and drug buyers.

"This is politics," Fulop said. "The guy (Comey) doesn't get paid to make excuses. He gets paid to confront crime.

"It really comes down to the fact this is being pushed by me," Fulop added. "That's why he's pushing back."

At a caucus meeting of the council last Monday, Comey raised several concerns about Fulop's proposal to crack down on drug dealing and prostitution by requiring police to seize the cars of their customers.

Located near Liberty State Park, the city's car pound has a capacity of 700 cars and takes in roughly 300 every month, Comey said.

Comey said he'd also have to see what effect the additional legal work would have on the Prosecutor's Office and court system.

In addition, Comey raised legal concerns about seizing the car of an individual who simply lent their car to a friend or family member.

"I'm trying to do what's in the best interest of the city," Comey said. "I still have a job to do. I think I'm acting prudently as the (city's) chief law enforcement officer."

Fulop proposal is based on "Operation Losing Proposition," a police effort in New York City implemented in the early 1990s to crack down on street prostitution, had as its hallmark the seizure of the cars belonging to "johns."

According to a Harvard University study, the arrests of street prostitute customers rose from 196 in 1992 to 2,756 in 1994. The total revenue produced from the forfeitures to the Police Department increased from $322,538 in 1992 to $940,821 in 1994," the study said.

Posted on: 2007/4/19 13:57
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Re: Fulop: Cops should seize vehicles from drug buyers, johns
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This isn't Fulop's proposal... it is existing police policy called a general order. The JJ got it wrong and even the JC Reporter is misleading. This policy has been on the books for over 5 years. Fulop is saying, actually enforce the policy or remove it from the books. From what I have slowly been gathering the points on both sides seem to be more thoughtful and intelligent than what is being portrayed.

That being said, thank you so much Phillygirl for enlightening me. I don't think I would have ever figured out the system. I guess it should be weighed in cost factors as well as quality of life.

The only question I raise is that we should not do this due to the economic stress that it puts on the system... it seems not to be an arguement that holds much weight on its own. Defending those on death row has an astronomical cost. Then again, look at Guliani in NYC when everyone was being arrested and there was no increase of staffing in the court system... people were just put back on the street.

I still don't feel comfortable about this policy, but I guess the question as voters is:

Do you want the policy already on the books instituted or do you want it removed? This is what you should be telling your council people.

Posted on: 2007/4/18 16:38
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Re: Fulop: Cops should seize vehicles from drug buyers, johns
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Okay, I am WAY too lazy to read this whole thread. But that will not stop me from offering up an opinion on the Fulop proposal. (Seriously, when has actual information or data ever stopped me from offering an opinion?)

Does Mr. Fulop, or anyone on the council, have any idea how much of a HUGE pain in the neck it is for prosecutors to file forfeiture petitions? It is a nightmare -- you know, that whole constitutional right to due process for property and all. Forfeiture is not handled within the criminal prosecution. It requires a separate civil action in a separate civil court; it has different legal elements and requires different kinds of proof; officers have to submit and affirm different affidavits; cops have to fill out another whole set of papers at the time of the seizure, thus taking more time before they can get back on the street. It goes on.

Do we really think that this is an effective use of the limited time and resources of our criminal prosecutors and police officers? They already have the discretion to do it. If the offense is eggregious they have the power to seize the car. Forcing police and prosecutors to waste huge amounts of their time because the council thinks that they are too lenient (!) is ridiculous.

I am all for many of Fulop's proposals. This one is terrible. Sometimes discretion is better left in the hands of those at the scene.

Posted on: 2007/4/18 15:22
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Re: Fulop: Cops should seize vehicles from drug buyers, johns
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I will do my best impersonation of GrovePath and post the link to my article related to this issue of forfeiture.

http://www.zwire.com/site/news.cfm?ne ... =461&dept_id=523586&rfi=6

I welcome any feedback or any questions. Thanks.

Ricardo

P.S. Thanks GrovePath for posting my articles, the JJ articles and others related to Jersey City that I read when I have some time.

Posted on: 2007/4/17 4:15
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Re: War over car seizure plan - Fulop blasted Police Chief Comey as a "political hack"
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I swear sometimes I feel like I'm going out of my mind with this City. One of these days I'm going to write a book titled, Dazed and Confused in Jersey City. I wonder who will play me in the movie version....

So there is no ordinance being proposed, no new proposal. The seizure of vehicles is already a police policy (general order) that has been in place for at least 5 years now.

After receiving feedback from his surveys, Councilman Fulop responded to the quality of life issues of residents in areas where there is a high volume of illegal drugs being sold and prostitution. These residents asked Fulop for help and named this one of their top problems with the City.

Fulop found out there was already a police policy that might remedy the situation, but it wasn't being enforced. I guess Fulop's message all along has been enforce the policy or remove it. My words would be more to the effect of crap or get off the pot... but I am a very blunt person.

So Fulop was asking the police chief to do his job, but not dictating to him how he should do it because this is already policy. This issue was brought before council in order to get a council wide recommendation that this policy be enforced.

I still don't like the policy, but I feel better knowing it didn't simply come from nowhere and that this is not and a proposed ordinance by Councilman Fulop.

Jersey Journal, you're on notice! Start reporting the facts and stop misleading readers!

Sincerely,

Althea

Posted on: 2007/4/17 2:59
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Re: War over car seizure plan - Fulop blasted Police Chief Comey as a "political hack"
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Quote:

StevenFulop wrote:

We discussed at the caucus this wouldn?t apply to small quantities of drugs like marijuana (this was discussed) nor first offenders on prostitution however, there are instances when it would work and I believe addressing the demand side of the equation and not only the supply side can have results to help quality of life crimes.

There are 85 posts on this thread so I guess answering each one is not possible but I thought in fairness I prob should write something on the the assumptions that seemed most common.

Steven Fulop


Steve, I respect what you are doing a ton. Thank god someone is calling out all of the crooks in our local government. I agree that the selling of hard drugs like heroin and crack are no good for the community. Unfortunately, the buyers are addicts that need help. When an addict is caught, you can either point them in the right direction and show them hope, or you can take even more from them and give them more hopelessness. In that context, which do you really think is most effective? These folks need a helping hand.

Another point - if marijuana is not a part of this plan. You need to make this abundantly clear and stress to the JJ reporters that the exclusion of m/j is an important part of your plan that voters need to aware of. Given your position, you are probably unaware of an affluent and educated portion of your voters that care a tremendous amount about this issue. Get aware.

More importantly, if you don't think marijuana is destructive enough to warrant inclusion into this bill, then why are the selling/distribution laws in this city so stringent?

As for prostitution, the shame method is proven effective. PROVEN. Why risk the chance that you will hurt innocent, unwilling members of their family?

Posted on: 2007/4/14 1:41
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Re: Finders Keepers: Forfeiture Laws, Policing Incentives, and Local Budgets
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Dunn was an Associate Producer for FRONTLINE's "Drug Wars" series


Rudy Ramirez never expected to become a statistic in the War on Drugs when he set off to buy a used car, $7300 in cash at the ready, in January 2000. Ramirez, who lives in Edinburg, Texas near the border with Mexico, had spotted a listing for the used Corvette in a magazine and wanted it badly enough that he talked his brother-in-law into accompanying him on a thousand mile road trip to Missouri to make the purchase. When Ramirez was pulled over by police in Kansas City, however, the tenor of the trip changed.

"They asked if I had any money with me, and I said yes," recalls Ramirez. "I didn't think they would take it away. I had nothing to hide." But the trajectory of the rental car, and the piles of cash, suggested otherwise to police--who suspected him of trafficking drugs from the Mexican border. As Ramirez tells it, he was detained at the side of the road for hours while his car was thoroughly searched and inspected by a drug dog. "They kept asking me, `Where are the drugs?'" he recalls. "I told them they had the wrong guy."

The Drug Enforcement Agency's file on the case indicates that Ramirez gave officers confused statements about both the money and his destination, and that his extremely brief stay in a Missouri motel looked suspicious. What's more, the drug dog "alerted" on parts of the car, indicating that drugs could have been there at one time--which, since it was a rental car, may or may not have anything to do with Rudy Ramirez.

Still, the search turned up no drugs of any kind, and the officers finally told Ramirez that he was free to go--but not before confiscating $6,000 of his money in the name of the federal war on drugs in a process known as "forfeiture." Despite check stubs that he says prove that the money came from a car accident settlement reached several months before, and bank records showing that it was withdrawn from his account just prior to the Missouri trip, Ramirez has, to this day, been unable to get his money returned. He shakes his head as he describes it. "All I want is my money back," he says.

Last year, almost a billion dollars worth of cash, cars, boats, real estate, and other property was forfeited to the federal government--most of it labeled as drug-related. And while much of this property was taken from bona fide criminals, critics of the nation's forfeiture laws say that too many innocent people have fallen through the cracks in a system that, until recently, has been far too heavily slanted in the government's favor.

Watch a special video report on small businessman Clay Waterman, who believes he was an innocent victim of the forfeiture laws.

Retreat is rare in our nation's drug war--which makes recent roll-backs to the forfeiture laws all the more remarkable. In their scramble not to appear "soft on crime," lawmakers normally seem able only to get tougher, even amidst widespread agreement that a policy is flawed.

But on August 23rd, 2000, after a difficult seven-year campaign by Republican Congressman Henry Hyde from Illinois, the Civil Asset Forfeiture Reform Act finally went into effect--making it more difficult for the federal government to seize property without evidence of wrongdoing. It took a remarkable coalition of conservative and liberal lawmakers, to change a law that everyone from the American Civil Liberties Union to the National Rifle Association has recognized as flawed. And while the reforms come too late to help Rudy Ramirez, they will help to make cases like his rarer.

Law dictionaries define forfeiture as "loss of some right or property as a penalty for some illegal act," and its role as a tool in the war on drugs is clear: to hit drug dealers where it hurts most...in the wallet. The forfeiture laws allow the government to seize property from people it believes to be involved in drug-related activity, and then to use that revenue to bolster the efforts of law enforcement. The concept is simple. If you use your car, plane or boat to transport drugs, you will lose your car, plane or boat. And if your cash was acquired through illegal drug sales, you will lose that cash and anything bought with it.

Forfeitures, however, can fall into two categories--criminal or civil--and due to some high-profile abuses, civil asset forfeiture has become extremely controversial. Under criminal law, the government can seize property as punishment only after its owner has been convicted of a crime, and our justice system ensures that they are considered innocent until proven guilty. But under civil law, it is the property itself--not the owner--that is charged with involvement in a crime. What's more, that property is considered "guilty" until proven innocent in court by its owner, thus turning our usual system of justice on its head.

According to a report prepared for the Senate Judiciary Committee, at least 90 percent of the property that the federal government seeks to forfeit is pursued through civil asset forfeiture. And although forfeiture is intended as punishment for illegal activity, over 80% of the people whose property is seized under civil law are never even charged with a crime according to one study of over 500 federal cases by the Pittsburgh Press. For this reason, critics say, the system can run roughshod over the rights of innocent property owners--and fail to distinguish them from the guilty.

This potential for abuse is compounded by the strong financial incentive that law enforcement has to make seizures--since they benefit directly from forfeited property. It was the passage of the Comprehensive Crime Control Act of 1984, part of the Reagan-era ramp-up in the war on drugs, that first made this possible. At a federal level, the law established two new forfeiture funds: one at the U.S. Department of Justice, which gets revenue from forfeitures done by agencies like the Drug Enforcement Agency and the Federal Bureau of Investigation, and another now run by the U.S. Treasury, which gets revenue from agencies like Customs and the Coast Guard. These funds could now be used for forfeiture-related expenses, payments to informants, prison building, equipment purchase, and other general law enforcement purposes.

But equally important, local law enforcement would now get a piece of the pie. Within the 1984 Act was a provision for so-called "equitable sharing", which allows local law enforcement agencies to receive a portion of the net proceeds of forfeitures they help make under federal law--and under current policy, that can be up to 80%. Previously, seized assets had been handed over to the federal government in their entirety.

Immediately following passage of the Act, federal forfeitures increased dramatically. The amount of revenue deposited into the Department of Justice Assets Forfeiture Fund, for example, soared from $27 million in 1985 to $644 million in 1991--a more than twenty-fold increase. And as forfeitures increased, so did the amount of money flowing back to state and local law enforcement through equitable sharing.

Some say that because of the resulting windfall, state and local law enforcement has become as addicted to forfeiture as an addict is to drugs--making property seizure no longer a means to an end, but an end in itself. In 1999 alone, approximately $300 million of the $957 million that the Treasury and Justice Department funds took in went back to the state and local departments that helped with the seizures. And since 1986, the Department of Justice's equitable sharing program has distributed over $2 billion in cash and property. Additional revenue comes from forfeitures done under state law, which adds to the total intake. According to a study by the Bureau of Justice Statistics, state and local law enforcement reported receiving a total of over $700 million in drug-related asset forfeiture revenue in 1997 alone--with some departments single-handedly taking in several million dollars for their own use.

The potentially corrupting influence of this flow of cash is apparent from a situation currently unfolding in the state of Missouri--where, in what has become a highly controversial practice, mirrored across the country, police are circumventing their own state law in order to continue reaping the financial rewards of civil asset forfeiture.

In 1993, in response to some widely-publicized police abuses, the Missouri State Legislature passed a sweeping reform of the state's civil asset forfeiture laws. The new state law, one of the most stringent in the nation, required that a property owner be convicted of a felony in court before property related to that crime can be forfeited. What's more, the law required all proceeds from the forfeitures to go to a state education fund--not back to law enforcement. The reforms provided strong protection to innocent property owners, making it much harder to forfeit property under Missouri law than under federal law, and eliminated the police profit motive for making seizures.

In the face of these restrictions, however, Missouri's law enforcement has implemented what critics call an elaborate shell game that allows it to continue doing forfeitures under the laxer, federal laws--and to continue receiving a share of the profits. The practice walks a very thin semantic line, relying on the distinction between "discovering" and "seizing" cash. Upon discovering cash during a traffic stop that they believe to be drug money, for instance, a local policeman or Missouri Highway Patrol officer will not actually attempt to "seize" it. Instead, they call a federal agent to the scene to perform the seizure, virtually guaranteeing that the case will be processed under federal law and that their department can receive a share of the proceeds instead of sending those proceeds to the state education fund.

A 1999 report by Missouri State Auditor Claire McCaskill, in fact, found that in spite of the reforms to Missouri state law, 85% of the money and property seized on investigations involving Missouri law enforcement is still handled under federal forfeiture laws. "Forfeiture is as American as apple pie," says McCaskill, who strongly supports its use as a tool in the war on drugs. "The problem is when law enforcement starts circumventing state law in the process." Missouri's legislature has been considering reform bills that could end the practice--an issue that will most likely be revived in the coming session--and the Kansas City School District has filed a lawsuit against all of Missouri's law enforcement.


Bob Boydston, the Sheriff of Clay County, Missouri, says that he has never had to make a decision between using the state versus the federal system--and has followed the state statutes since he took office in 1993. He can definitely understand, however, why his colleagues opt for the federal system when faced with the choice. "One system will ultimately mean that the proceeds leave the agency, while the other returns some of the money to be used to fight illegal drug dealing," he explains. "After law enforcement spends long, hard, dangerous hours working a case, it seems natural to me that they make the choice to go the federal route. It's depicted as some kind of sinister plot and plan to circumvent statutes and keep money from the schools. That's not the case at all."

Boydston's county of 15 towns and 180,000 people just north of Kansas City has experienced the benefits of forfeiture proceeds first-hand. Assisting in just one federal forfeiture, of which Clay County's share was $94,000, has allowed the sheriff's department to train a drug dog, and maintain a military surplus helicopter that it uses for surveillance work, highway pursuits, and support for the efforts of the department's SWAT team. These are expenses that Boydston says the department could never have afforded otherwise over the past three years--but that are crucial to helping combat the county's extensive methamphetamine problem.

Financial incentives aside, many of Missouri's law enforcement officers say that they choose to process forfeitures under federal law for another reason as well: while federal law gives them a fighting chance of taking the profits out of drug dealing, state law does not. They feel strongly that, due to the felony conviction requirement, the new state law allows too many drug dealers to walk free, unpunished, with piles of cash, when there is not enough concrete evidence to convict them of a drug-related felony.

But it is the laxer provisions of the federal law that, until recently, have created enormous hardships for innocent people caught up in the system. Many property owners have faced years of difficult and costly litigation before winning back money, cars, homes and businesses that were never involved in a crime. And others have never had their property returned at all. It is these cases, tracked by groups like the American Civil Liberties Union and the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers, and highlighted in congressional hearings, that have fueled the drive for reform at a national level.

In many cases, people like Rudy Ramirez have been suspected of involvement in drug trafficking for no more reason than its being "unusual" in this day and age to possess a thick wad of cash. Take the example of Willie Jones, a landscape architect who was carrying $9,600 through the Nashville airport on his way to buy shrubbery. Or the case of physician Richard Lowe who--distrustful of banks, and with vivid memories of the Great Depression--stockpiled $317,000 in his home in Alabama before finally depositing it in a bank, leading the government to confiscate a full $2.5 million of his life savings for this suspicious behavior.

Of particular importance to conservative lawmakers, small businesses have suffered under these laws as well. In one well-publicized case, federal agents sought to forfeit the Red Carpet Inn in Houston, Texas when, despite the hotel staff's frequent contact with police, the local U.S. attorney said the owners had "tacitly approved" of drug dealing on their property and not done enough to prevent it. The hotel's owners were not charged with any crime, but had rejected police "solutions" to the problem such as raising their room rates to deter drug dealers from staying there.

Henry Hyde has called stories like these "Kafkaesque," and recalls that when he first learned of the nation's civil forfeiture practices, he considered them "more appropriate for the Soviet Union than the United States." What's more, he's said, "People take their due process rights for granted...they have no idea that these laws exist."

Critics agree that the main problem with the civil asset forfeiture laws, before the recent reforms, was the low burden of proof required to seize property. A seizure could be made on the basis of mere suspicion, known as "probable cause", that the property was involved in a crime--and that is no more evidence than is required to obtain a search warrant. No arrest, let alone conviction, was needed. It was then up to the property owner to prove by "a preponderance of the evidence", a more difficult standard to meet, that their money, or car, or home, was not bought with drug money or used to commit a drug-related crime, and should be returned.

Furthermore, the high cost of contesting a forfeiture often posed an insurmountable problem, as it did for Rudy Ramirez. In order to take his case to court, Ramirez would have had to post a "cost bond" of 10% of the value of the property seized--and if he lost the case he would lose the bond. But for a landscaping truck driver who is barely getting by, scraping together another $600 was no minor hurdle. "I don't have money to be wasting," says Ramirez. What's more, unlike a defendant in a criminal trial, Ramirez was not entitled to a government-appointed attorney if he could not afford a private lawyer. He would have had to hire the attorney at his own expense--and as Bruce Simon, a Missouri lawyer to whom Ramirez went for help, explains, no lawyer in the country would likely take that case.

"Generally speaking, it's not worth it unless you've had twenty-five to thirty thousand dollars taken away," says Simon. It would have cost a minimum of around $10,000 to take a case like Ramirez' to court, says Simon, so the $6,000 he would have gotten back wouldn't even cover his lawyer's fees. As a result of these blunt financial realities, Simon has seen many innocent owners simply give up without a fight when faced with a system that provides "no effective remedy" for them.

Eighty percent of forfeitures, in fact, go uncontested in court--a statistic that the government feels suggests that the owners are guilty, and do not wish to force the issue, but some others feel shows that the system is stacked too heavily in the government's favor. According to a Justice Department source, the average value of a DEA seizure in 1998 was around $25,000. And lawyers say this confirms that many seizures are small enough to fall below the amount they would consider worthwhile to contest.

In the absence of a court case, the only recourse left to someone like Rudy Ramirez is to petition the DEA directly to return the money--a so-called "administrative" solution. But Bruce Simon asks, how likely is the DEA to believe that its agents have made a mistake? "That would mean the agency passing judgement on itself," he explains, saying that most of those claims "never get anywhere." According to the DEA's own estimates, in fact, only 3-5% of such petitions are ever granted.

This bleak picture began to change in April of this year, however, when the Civil Asset Forfeiture Reform Act was finally signed into federal law. The success caps a nearly decade-long crusade, and is the result of cooperation between some truly unlikely allies who, only by working together, could overpower Congress' fear of looking "soft on crime". Henry Hyde, a conservative Republican from Illinois and chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, was joined by the House Judiciary Committee's ranking Democrat, John Conyers of Michigan, to spearhead the effort--which united politicians as diverse as outspoken conservative Bob Barr of Georgia with Democratic liberal Barney Frank of Massachusetts. An equally impressive coalition formed in the Senate around the issue.

Joining in support were organizations as wide-ranging as the American Civil Liberties Union, the National Rifle Association, the American Bankers Association, the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers, the United States Chamber of Commerce, the Americans for Tax Reform, and organizations representing groups like pilots, boaters and hotel owners.

The new law requires the government to have much stronger evidence of wrongdoing before it can seize a person's property--raising the burden of proof from "probable cause" to "a preponderance of the evidence" that the property is linked to a crime. What's more, it shifts the burden of proof to the federal government, meaning that the government must now prove in court that the property was involved in crime...instead of the property owner needing to prove the opposite.

Equally important for people like Rudy Ramirez, the new law removes many of the onerous financial hurdles involved in contesting a forfeiture. It refunds lawyers' fees to property owners who successfully challenge a seizure in court, and in some cases provides government-paid lawyers to the indigent. Furthermore, it eliminates the requirement that property owners post a sometimes hefty bond before they can fight to get their property back.

The Justice Department and national law enforcement groups lobbied furiously to prevent passage of the original bill put forward by Henry Hyde, concerned that it jeopardized a key weapon in the war on drugs. Hyde's original version, in fact, contained much stronger provisions--and sought to raise the burden of proof on the government to "clear and convincing evidence" that the seized property was criminally-linked.

Ray Dineen, Director of the Treasury Department's Forfeiture Fund, voiced concerns early on about the potential weakening of a valuable law enforcement tool. He says that the country must not forget the purpose of seizing cars, offshore bank accounts, planes, boats, and other property that supports the drug trade, which is to dismantle a criminal infrastructure that was illegally acquired in the first place. He adds, "The fact that revenue generated by this effort is subsequently used to support law enforcement initiatives is smart policy--not a program of unchecked `taking.' We're not looking for money, we're looking for the impact on criminal enterprises."

In the end, both the Department of Justice and the Department of the Treasury have come out cautiously in favor of the final compromise legislation--saying that raising the burden of proof needed to make a seizure is sensible protection for innocent property owners. Still, they predict a loss of revenue, and have concerns about the possibility of frivolous court cases being brought by criminals under the new law.

Civil rights activists like the ACLU aren't entirely satisfied either, which may be the sign of a good compromise. "We think this just begins to address the problem," said Rachel King, legislative counsel of the ACLU, when the law first passed. "The situation is so bad that even modest reforms are important."

Make no mistake about it, the recent reforms do not address the issue that many feel is central to most abuses of civil asset forfeiture: the financial incentive for law enforcement to make seizures. Still, the new law will help ensure that legitimate use of a powerful tool in the war on drugs violates the rights of fewer innocent people.

"This bill is one we can all be proud of," Henry Hyde said of the final version. "It returns civil asset forfeiture to the ranks of respected law enforcement tools that can be used without risk to the civil liberties and property rights of American citizens. We are all better off that this is so." And in the war on drugs, that is a bold step forward--and a kind of reform that is all too rare.

Posted on: 2007/4/13 15:23
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Re: Finders Keepers: Forfeiture Laws, Policing Incentives, and Local Budgets
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After 20 years of law enforcement and countless criminology courses, these are the reason why I would recommend forfeiture of assets after conviction.

1. Reimburse the State for the increasing costs to fight crime ? especially gang and organized crime.
2. Compensate society for the enormous harm and human misery caused by crime ? especially drug related offenses.
3. Prevent crime by reducing the capacity of offenders to finance future criminal activities.
4. A clear remedy to prevent the unjust enrichment of criminals who profit from societies expenses.
5. Discourage and deter crime by reducing actual and expected profitability.

Posted on: 2007/4/13 14:43
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Re: Finders Keepers: Forfeiture Laws, Policing Incentives, and Local Budgets
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From the Georgetown International Environmental Law Review,


Reshaping Environmental Criminal Law: How Forfeiture Statutes Can Deter Crime

Posted on: 2007/4/13 13:40
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Re: War over car seizure plan - Fulop blasted Police Chief Comey as a "political hack"
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Am I missing something? I assume that the measures Steve is promoting simply seize the vehicle that is used in the committance of a crime. I have no problem with that. However, if the police are going to someone's home to take assets just because the person was involved in a crime, that seems like punishment before verdict. Basically, if you drive a car to buy drugs or sex, and are caught doing so, your car is forfeit. If you don't like it, walk to buy your drugs, or get a hotel room.

Posted on: 2007/4/12 17:33
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Re: War over car seizure plan - Fulop blasted Police Chief Comey as a "political hack"
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I guess I should look at this more often as all I can say is "wow" I didn?t realize how beat up I was getting on JClist. If I lose support from some of you, it really does sadden me but I guess there isn't much I can do about that, as I try the best I can to make the city better. I do make mistakes, I think I am fairly decent at learning from them, but truthfully I don't view this as one of them.

I will say that I had a conversation with the Jersey Journal yesterday as I didn?t think they were fair by any means in presenting either the Chief or my perspective/conversation on this issue. I guess there are space issues in any newspaper but I felt they went for the sensational side only when I called the chief very political and not some of the important details. At the caucus I gave close to twenty corners that are known very active open drug corners and active with prostitution that is moving into neighborhoods. I think we all agree that it needs to be addressed and the only issue is really what are the best tools for this.

We can disagree as to whether forfeiture works, if this is something infringing on someone's rights, if this is applicable but I believe it?s a tool in certain situations that make sense and can have results. Those who reference that it is focused on poorer people is just not true , it is focused on people breaking the law and related to quality of life issues. We discussed at the caucus this wouldn?t apply to small quantities of drugs like marijuana (this was discussed) nor first offenders on prostitution however, there are instances when it would work and I believe addressing the demand side of the equation and not only the supply side can have results to help quality of life crimes.

There are 85 posts on this thread so I guess answering each one is not possible but I thought in fairness I prob should write something on the the assumptions that seemed most common.

Steven Fulop

Posted on: 2007/4/12 16:15
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Finders Keepers: Forfeiture Laws, Policing Incentives, and Local Budgets
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"I challenge anyone to find a reputable and credible study that shows that asset forfeiture leads to less illegal drug crime or prostitution."


Try this National Bureau of Economic Research paper. Usually you need to pay for them. This paper (pdf document) is free.

Posted on: 2007/4/12 14:56
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Re: War over car seizure plan - Fulop blasted Police Chief Comey as a "political hack"
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Quote:

GrovePath wrote:
War over car seizure plan
Wednesday, April 11, 2007
By KEN THORBOURNE
JOURNAL STAFF WRITER

Comey said he'd also have to see what effect the additional legal work would have on the Prosecutor's Office and court system.

In addition, Comey raised legal concerns about seizing the car of an individual who simply lent their car to a friend or family member.



Comey you are such a dick, and have less knowledge of the political process then me.

Fulop or any councilperson is elected by the constituents of this City, and in my book he is given the 'trusted' power to push forward solutions to problem as seen by the voters.

Comey, just get off your fat-ass and say that you will start the process and get things into motion. Siht even I know that this sort of law is being carried out in a lot of States, especially the southern States and it pays for itself and is a great way to pool some nice unmarked police cars.

Hopefully this will stop drug dealers buying cars and having them registered in their grandmothers name and will make people re-think lending their cars to friends or even family. (This will show what sort of ass-hole husband or family member they are living with)

Obviously people are contacting Fulop and see drugs and 'johns' as being a major problem in JC, so its not upto Comey to second guess the communities needs, but to ACT and CARRY them out by OUR elected representatives.

I hope this isn't another "puppet" Police Chief and a tip for you Comey is DON'T THINK, JUST DO and go through the legal process and manage the change.

This all sounds like an excuse not to grab a certain Mercedes from a certain council person at-large.

Posted on: 2007/4/11 13:38
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Re: War over car seizure plan - Fulop blasted Police Chief Comey as a "political hack"
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Car seizure can often hurt the neediest people, who also are usually victims themselves, such as the wives of the Johns, the mothers of drug dealers. It all sounds very nice seizing criminals' cars, and Im sure the "law and order" folks are all about it, but there are other people to consider here who are either ignorant to these activities or victims themselves.

Posted on: 2007/4/11 13:38
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War over car seizure plan - Fulop blasted Police Chief Comey as a "political hack"
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War over car seizure plan
Wednesday, April 11, 2007
By KEN THORBOURNE
JOURNAL STAFF WRITER

Downtown Jersey City Councilman Steve Fulop blasted Police Chief Tom Comey as a "political hack" yesterday for raising questions about his proposal to seize the cars of "johns" and drug buyers.

"This is politics," Fulop said. "The guy (Comey) doesn't get paid to make excuses. He gets paid to confront crime.

"It really comes down to the fact this is being pushed by me," Fulop added. "That's why he's pushing back."

At a caucus meeting of the council Monday, Comey raised several concerns about Fulop's proposal to crack down on drug dealing and prostitution by requiring police to seize the cars of their customers.

Located near Liberty State Park, the city's car pound has a capacity of 700 cars and takes in roughly 300 every month, Comey said.

Comey said he'd also have to see what effect the additional legal work would have on the Prosecutor's Office and court system.

In addition, Comey raised legal concerns about seizing the car of an individual who simply lent their car to a friend or family member.

"I'm trying to do what's in the best interest of the city," Comey said yesterday. "I still have a job to do. I think I'm acting prudently as the (city's) chief law enforcement officer."

City Council President Mariano Vega said Fulop's proposed ordinance is likely to be yanked from tonight's meeting and a council committee would be formed to explore it further.

Fulop proposal is based on "Operation Losing Proposition," a police effort in New York City implemented in the early 1990s to crack down on street prostitution, had as its hallmark the seizure of the cars belonging to "johns."

According to a Harvard University study, the arrests of street prostitute customers rose from 196 in 1992 to 2,756 in 1994. The total revenue produced from the forfeitures to the Police Department increased from $322,538 in 1992 to $940,821 in 1994," the study said.

Posted on: 2007/4/11 12:58
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Re: Fulop: Cops should seize vehicles from drug buyers, johns
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I like Fulop's effort on being tough on crime. I'll wait to see the details of this ordinance before I give an opinion, and its not as if it couldn't be altered.

I don't see any other council member doing anything to lower crime. Healy will praise himself that crime is down but it is still not at an acceptable level.

Posted on: 2007/3/25 0:01
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Re: Fulop: Cops should seize vehicles from drug buyers, johns
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Quote:

Mouse wrote:
Quote:

Ross_Ewage wrote:

One thing he can't go back on is the complete and total alienation from his colleagues on the council.


Good.

Regardless of whatever perceived miss steps the councilman has or will make, alienating himself from this council is not one of them.

This council and administration will likely go down as one of the most inept in Jersey City's storied history.

And, for Jersey City, that is saying a lot.

This current group exemplifies all that is wrong with municipal government and is a model for discouraging citizen participation. With the exception of Steve (and Viola), the lot of them are disgraceful.

-M


There have been worse councils and councilpeople. Consider those who gave away the most valuable remaining real estate on the east coast to build truly ugly housing and a 2nd rate mall.

The problem with alienating his peers is that his ward may pay the price. He wasn't elected to carry on his own personal crusade for justice and righteousness, but to represent his ward and get our share of city services. While he may enjoy his "Mr. Smith goes to Washington" loner status, being part of a legislative body involves working with others. If he can't do that, his performance suffers.

Finally, say what you will about our elected representatives, but they were elected by majorities in each ward and citywide. The problem is not what's wrong with municipal government, but what's wrong with citizen participation that this is the best we get. Downtown elected Fulop, if the other wards can't or won't follow suit, you're fighting demographics.

Posted on: 2007/3/24 19:22
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Re: Fulop: Cops should seize vehicles from drug buyers, johns
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Quote:

Ross_Ewage wrote:

One thing he can't go back on is the complete and total alienation from his colleagues on the council.


Good.

Regardless of whatever perceived miss steps the councilman has or will make, alienating himself from this council is not one of them.

This council and administration will likely go down as one of the most inept in Jersey City's storied history.

And, for Jersey City, that is saying a lot.

This current group exemplifies all that is wrong with municipal government and is a model for discouraging citizen participation. With the exception of Steve (and Viola), the lot of them are disgraceful.

-M

Posted on: 2007/3/24 17:13
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Re: Fulop: Cops should seize vehicles from drug buyers, johns
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We haven't even seen the full ordinance or heard from the councilman himself, but we are so ready to write him off because of one ordinance we might disagree with? 'Cause of course the Jersey Journal always reports the full facts, right? Is that what I'm to understand? Wow, you people are less forgiving than Yankees fans!

I am a little surprised by this, but there is legislation out there that is really well defined and does not infringe on civil liberties the way this seems to. I would like to hear it explain and understand why it was proposed in the first place. I?d like to see the full ordinance.

I couldn't imagine that constituents are all of one mind and perhaps a very serious and respectable group approached with this request due to some pretty hard hit areas of JC and this ordinance wasn't as well thought out as you would think.

Am I correct that there are 3 readings of this ordinance? Am I wrong in thinking that the council already puts Fulop at arms length and that should be no gauge as to whether certain legislation should be introduced and debated.

My observation has been of a council person, who has really listened to everyone and considered their requests among all the needs of the community. I really don't know how that has changed or how saying he's been written off is constructive.

I don't feel all that great about my council person, not Fulop, but I'm not writing him off either and would like my voice to be heard in order to see what changes. If he listens great, otherwise I will look at the total record and vote accordingly at the next election.

Posted on: 2007/3/24 3:20
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Re: Fulop: Cops should seize vehicles from drug buyers, johns
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So now what?

Clearly a misstep by the councilman. But can he backtrack based on the outrage expressed here or will that make him look like the dreaded "flipflopper"?

One thing he can't go back on is the complete and total alienation from his colleagues on the council. Can any amount of explaining make this seem like it wasn't aimed at Willie Flood? Say what you like about your fellow politicians, but I thought families were off limits. Callous at best, but his effectiveness as a legislator has to take a hit. Oh, he'll still be a responsive councilman, returning calls, getting trash cans in the park and benches in the dog runs, but it's doubtful that any of his large scale initiatives will gain any traction over the next 2 years. And his fault or not, that's a tough record to run on.

So, of course it will be defeated at the council meeting, no need to turn up with signs for or against. I think even Richardson will have a hard time supporting this one, and she was a cop. And unlike the pay to play ordinance, this won't get played up and become a rallying cry for reform. Wait, did that happen yet? I mean, besides here?

Jersey City politics, always fun to watch.

Posted on: 2007/3/24 1:39
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Re: Fulop: Cops should seize vehicles from drug buyers, johns
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Before anyone jumps on the asset forfeiture bandwagon, I encourage you to educate yourselves by reading the following articles. I also challenge anyone to find a reputable and credible study that shows that asset forfeiture leads to less illegal drug crime or prostitution.

http://cad.sagepub.com/cgi/content/abstract/42/3/421


http://www.ingentaconnect.com/content ... 0000029/00000003/art00082


http://taylorandfrancis.metapress.com/content/h447372848715554/

Posted on: 2007/3/23 20:53
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Re: Fulop: Cops should seize vehicles from drug buyers, johns
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Fulop just lost my vote;

Civil forfeiture is double jeopardy and it usually impacts the innocent worse than the offender

The first supreme court case concerning this policy involved a guy picked up for solicitation. He was from a poor family and the family car was seized as a result of his trangression. The $600 camaro (maybe a bitchin Camaro).

This caused the innocent spouse to lose access to the family car which resulted in her losing her job. This in turn had a devestating effect on the family

That is the potential and perhaps likely result of such a heavy handed policy.

For big drug dealers civil fort is a good weapon even if it may be double punishment but for the small time dealer or John it can have very destructive consequences far beyond the offender

Posted on: 2007/3/23 14:12
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Re: Fulop: Cops should seize vehicles from drug buyers, johns
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If this proposal includes people who buy pot, Fulop just lost my vote and my respect.

Posted on: 2007/3/23 13:55
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Re: Fulop: Cops should seize vehicles from drug buyers, johns
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Did the councilperson at-large Flood, lose her merc?

Posted on: 2007/3/23 13:38
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Fulop: Cops should seize vehicles from drug buyers, johns
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Fulop: Cops should seize vehicles from drug buyers, johns

Friday, March 23, 2007
By KEN THORBOURNE
JOURNAL STAFF WRITER

Jersey City Councilman Steve Fulop's message to prostitutes, drug dealers and their customers: Those boots were made for walking.

The Downtown councilman is set to propose next week a get-tough policy when it comes to seizing vehicles used in drug and prostitution crimes.

Fulop wants the Jersey City Police Department to seize not only the cars of the drug sellers and prostitutes, but also the cars belonging to the buyers and the johns.

"It probably is a difficult message to tell your wife you lost the car soliciting a prostitute," Fulop said. "It is reasonable to assume they would go somewhere else to take care of that business."

City officials are cool to Fulop's proposal.

City spokesman Stan H. Eason said cars directly involved in criminal activity - or those proven to have been purchased with ill-gotten gains - are routinely seized and held in a car pound near Liberty State Park.

But to seize every car belonging to a drug dealer, drug buyer, prostitute or john could overwhelm the system, not to mention the pound, which holds 700 cars and takes in 300 every month, Eason said.

"That would be new and extreme, and the system has to be studied to see if the courts, the car pound, and all entities involved in a zero-tolerance policy can support that," Eason said. "And does this zero-tolerance policy go beyond the (state) attorney general's guidelines? There are laws that allow you or don't allow you to seize someone's property, and they are not black and white."

Fulop countered, "capacity is not a valid excuse" to pan his proposal.

City officials should instead find a holding pen for the cars, he said.

"It (the proposal) is aggressive I think it will send a strong message," he added

Posted on: 2007/3/23 13:32
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