The Des Moines Register recently ran an editorial about how the Iowa State Patrol appears to be targeting out-of-state cars travelling through Iowa to try to find assets to seize using our current civil asset forfeiture laws. (See link below.)
Thanks to the Sunday Register (3/29/2015) for its exposé of the abuses occurring in Iowa under civil asset forfeiture laws. (Sunday Register 3/29/2015) Taking people’s money and other property without charging them with a crime violates the principles of due process of law and innocent until proven guilty.
Allowing law enforcement officers and prosecutors to keep the money that they confiscate creates a clear conflict of interest and is a corrupting influence. The examples given in the Register report show law enforcement officers have become more interested in collecting money than stopping crime. We need to stop this corruption and abuse.
SF467 has been introduced in the Iowa Senate. It would allow forfeiture only as part of a criminal charge against the owner, and it would require any forfeited property to be turned over the general fund of the county or state. If passed, this law would go a long way toward curbing these abuses. Contact your Iowa Senator and urge them to move this bill forward to passage.
Link to Register article: http://www.desmoinesregister.com/story/news/investigations/2015/03/28/iowa-forfeiture-system-legal-thievery/70600856/
I was disappointed to learn that, according to the Des Moines Register’s Iowa Poll, 67% of Iowa adults think is is best to continue to criminalize the personal use of marijuana. People continue to be imprisoned, fined, and given permanent criminal records because they engaged in a voluntary peaceful activity. Whether or not to legalize the recreational use of marijuana is not the correct question. The correct question is whether or not to continue to make criminals out of adults who have done no harm to anyone else. Many people have been greatly harmed because of our unjust marijuana prohibition laws. We now have a situation where the remedy is worse than the disease. The situation clearly conflicts with our state motto: Our liberties we prize and our rights we will maintain.
Thanks to The Des Moines Register for exposing the unconstitutional and abusive use of civil asset forfeiture laws against U.S. citizens by the Iowa State Patrol, county attorneys, and the Iowa Attorney General. Civil asset forfeiture laws allow law enforcement agencies to take people’s cash (and other property) without charging them with a crime! Then, citizens must prove they are innocent in order to get their money back.
Most amazing is the fact that the three law enforcement agencies that are involved get to split the money! Whatever they can keep becomes a slush fund they can use to expand their budgets without legislative approval. The conflict of interest is clear. As a result, rather than arresting people and charging them with a crimes, our law enforcement officials make getting cash and other assets an end unto itself.
This is another example of how the failed drug wars have gotten out of control. Our police have become militarized trying to fight the drug wars. People who have never been violent or used any force against anyone have been made into criminals. Then, because of their “criminal record”, they can’t get jobs and are prohibited from participating in benefits of our society.
We need to put a complete halt to civil asset forfeiture and we need to stop making criminals out of people who do no harm to others. Ask candidates if they will help put an end to this travesty of justice.
Link to Register article: http://www.desmoinesregister.com/story/news/crime-and-courts/2014/09/30/iowa-state-patrol-cash-seizure-illegal-gamblers-say/16511135/
One of the few proper roles of our government is to operate a civil and criminal justice system. In a civil society, crimes must be adjudicated impartially and disputes must be resolved peacefully. In Polk County, over the past decades, we have cobbled together the building space used to support our court system. The current space is crowded, unsafe, and inefficient. Detainees, judges, jurors, and the public cannot be properly segregated to ensure proper safety for all.
Five years ago, Polk County voters rejected as too expensive the then proposed $127 million bond referendum that included the construction of a new court building. Now, the County and other interested parties have brought forth a significantly less expensive proposal that achieves the same goals.
On November 5th, Polk County voters are being asked to approve an $81 million bond issue that, if approved, will add $12 – $13 per year to the property tax on a $100,000 house. The money will be used to renovate our existing historical Courthouse, convert the JC Penny/Wellmark building immediately North of the Courthouse into a “Justice Center Annex”, and convert the Old Main Jail immediately East of the Courthouse into a “Criminal Court Annex.” These changes will provide for a much safer and more efficient court system.
Those promoting this project have have responded thoughtfully to the objections made by voters five years ago, and have made sensible changes to reduce costs while achieving important goals. Polk County voters should vote YES on this “Public Measure A” on November 5th.
See the following link for more information: http://www.safepolk.com/