They are part of the ruling elite. Your livestock on the farm. You must return to their entire system of subjugation everything they want, it’s theirs after all. This is the reward for passing any power or compensation to these people. They will only use whatever they get to entrench more power over you. Their need is in their mind a claim on your property. Exactly as any other burglar. Their need for revenue is a claim on what they only sneeringly let you think is your property.
As though getting arrested and transported to jail is not distressing enough, locals in Ramsey County, MN are enforced to fork out “booking fees” whether or not they are at some point determined guilty of the crime for which they are accused. One instance of the latest, and many have reported “outrageous,” revenue streams comes from the case relating to Ramsey resident Corey Stratham.
Arrested and charged with disorderly conduct, Stratham had in his person a total of $46 dollars in cash. Discharged two days later, after having the charges dismissed, he tried to get back his possessions, only to discover the jail had billed him $25 for “booking fees.” In place of the cash, which the cops procured from him upon his arrest, the authorities returned to him a gift card for $21 – the remainder after the booking fees were withheld. Worse yet, the gift card came with a multitude of fees which made getting the $21 quite difficult.
Initially, there was the $7.25 to withdraw the funds from an ATM, then there was the $1.50 maintenance fee per week, and a per occurrence of $2.50 to withdraw the funds at an ATM where Stratham did not have an account. All of which made it practically improbable to get the $21 cash in hand. Stratham sued the county.
As outlined by the New York Times, the nation’s highest court is contemplating weighing in on the egregious procedure of what some are labelling government sponsored extortion, which all too often bites the poor the hardest.
“The Supreme Court will soon consider whether to hear Mr. Statham’s challenge to Ramsey County’s fund-raising efforts, which are part of a national trend to extract fees and fines from people who find themselves enmeshed in the criminal justice system,” notes the Times.
And the extortive methods are not limited to small counties in MN either. In Kentucky, citizens are enforced to pay for the time they spend in jail. In Colorado, after assets have been confiscated, citizens are demanded to file a separate lawsuit in order to get back their funds, even after they’ve been determined not guilty. The main issue with filing a lawsuit in CO is that if you lose your court case, you are then demanded by CO law to pay the court costs of the defendants.
Plaintiffs have litigated fees behind bars for decades on a variety of grounds. Litigants have raised a litany of constitutional challenges to health care fees,68 booking fees,69 room-and-board fees,70 and charges incurred while inmates were held pre-trial.71 Both state and federal courts have upheld the legality of jails’ rights to deduct funds directly from prisoner commissary accounts.72 Federal courts have similarly upheld the right of jails to deduct the cost of room-and-board directly from a pre-trial detainee’s prisoner account to pay for housing costs.73 In most cases, the courts have held that these fees do not violate the U.S. Constitution. However, one court held that a jail’s policy in taking cash from all prisoners, including pre-trial detainees, for booking fees at the time of initial booking at the jail violates the Fourteenth Amendment’s guarantee of due process because no pre-deprivation hearing was offered.74
Those arguing charges incurred in jail are unconstitutional have raised Due Process and Equal Protection arguments. Many have argued that the practice violates the Cruel and Unusual Punishment Clause of the Eighth Amendment. In almost all cases, the courts have sided with the agencies that implement these practices.
Many litigation strategies – from challenges against cruel and unusual punishment to arguments about equal protection – have proven unsuccessful. However, from this unfavorable case law advocates opposing these fees have overlooked doctrinal openings to conduct challenges under the U.S. Constitution. This essay will specifically explore the potential to challenge inmate fees under the Excessive Fines Clause of the Eighth Amendment. Advocates, in particular, would benefit from utilizing litigation as part of their reform strategy. Although successful in getting their objections written about by the media, news articles have a limited ability to change these practices. The media covers these stories relentlessly, but advocates see almost no impact as more and more jurisdictions implement fee practices each year. Litigation utilizing the Excessive Fines Clause offers a unique opportunity to argue that charging inmates fees while incarcerated violates the U.S. Constitution.
The Times documented Stratham’s case was, “argued last year before the United States Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit in St. Paul, a lawyer for the county acknowledged that its process was in tension with the presumption of innocence.” Oh yeah! There’s that notoriously quoted legal expression which seems to be typically overlooked in 21st century policing in the U.S. The concept of the presumption of innocence until proven guilty in a court of law appears to be overlooked as law enforcement departments try to apply, build and broaden an ever-increasing source of revenue streams.
As police departments strive to make up for budget shortfalls, rather than focusing on catching criminals, a conflict of interests comes up. Just last year, a Justice Department record discovered the Ferguson, MO police department, along with the courts, worked to implement the municipality’s penal code to supplement up to 30 percent of the police department’s budget.
The report determined, “Ferguson’s law enforcement practices are shaped by the City’s focus on revenue rather than by public safety needs. This emphasis on revenue has compromised the institutional character of Ferguson’s police department, contributing to a pattern of unconstitutional policing, and has also shaped its municipal court, leading to procedures that raise due process concerns and inflict unnecessary harm on members of the Ferguson community.”
As The Free Thought Project has documented, numerous police officers are miserable with their roles in producing revenue for their departments, rather than concentrating on what led them into law enforcement in the first place; fighting crime. Left unchecked, the new sources of revenue streams can be as questionable a subject as unlawful arrests. Presently, police departments are intensely engaged with asset forfeiture, utilizing speed cameras, and “tossing” cars while hunting for crimes with which to charge individuals.
One source even boasts law enforcement are looking at an ever-expanding list of techniques to charge folks for their services. Here’s a list of the attainable revenue streams law enforcement departments are urged to look into:
1. costs for sex offenders registering in your jurisdiction
2. tow companies and/or impound lots that are owned and operated by cities
3. fine increases of 50 percent; considerably more fine increases for DUI offenses
4. imposing a fine for repeat fake burglary alarms, as done by Meridian township, Michigan (some communities, such as Fremont, California, have stopped responding to alarms altogether, citing a high false alarm rate)
5. service costs for: jumpstart and vehicle lockout services; ride-a-longs for the public; fingerprinting for employment requirements; checking vacation houses when the owners are away (a truly ambitious police department could start its own in-house security service that includes home checks and security for private businesses); security and clean-up for various special events, such as fireworks and marches; note, nevertheless, that you may open yourself up to challenges from residents who have limited tolerance for costs imposed for police services that are either “too high” or that some may claim are already paid for from taxes;
6. specified business to clean biological material from serious crime scenes
7. permitting advertising on agency website and/or squad cars or otherwise permitting agency name for advertising purposes (this is an idea that has been floated from time to time since earlier this decade in some communities)
8. charging a resident fee comparable to a utility franchise tax (a quarterly, stand-alone bill for law enforcement services)
9. charging fees to non-residents who wreck in another town
10. taxes/fees on all alcohol or ammunition purchased in the city
11. cost for public to utilize police firing range during certain hours
12. public safety cost for all new developments in the city
13. providing firearm safety classes to the public for a fee
14. pay-per-call policing/charging a fee for each 911 call – though this might be feasible only in special circumstances as it might be particularly hard to find public support for this option
When police departments stop being a law enforcement agency, and start to transform themselves into a business, which results in revenue, an intriguing phenomenon happens. The agents of the agency, the police officers themselves, become incentivized to produce more income for their employer, rather than do their jobs as crime fighters.
Civil forfeiture laws represent one of the most serious assaults on private property rights in the nation today. With civil forfeiture, police and prosecutors can seize your property and use it to fund their budgets—all without charging you with a crime. Americans are supposed to be innocent until proven guilty, but with civil forfeiture, your property is guilty until you prove it innocent—and law enforcement has a huge incentive to police for profit, not justice.
If police suspect that you committed a crime, they can arrest you and put you on trial. At that trial, prosecutors must prove you are guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.
But if police suspect your car was involved in a crime, they can take it, sell it and, in most places, pocket the proceeds to pad their budgets. They need not prove you committed any crime—or even arrest you—to take your property away.
Welcome to the upside-down world of civil asset forfeiture.
With civil forfeiture, your property is guilty until you prove it innocent to get it back.
And because most state and federal laws allow police and prosecutors to pocket the proceeds, they have a big incentive to pursue profits, not justice.
How big? In 1986, the Justice Departments forfeiture fund took in 94 million dollars. Now it has more than a billion. State and local agencies receive forfeiture funds, too—but we don’t know how much because most states don’t publicly report on forfeiture.
No surprise—abuse is rampant. One New York police department spent forfeiture funds on food, gifts and entertainment. In Georgia, forfeiture funds paid for football tickets for a DAs office. In Louisiana, cops used funds to pay for ski trips to Aspen. And a DA in Texas used forfeiture dollars to buy TV ads for his re-election campaign.
Meanwhile, citizens are seeing cash, cars and other property taken away for the flimsiest of reasons. Carrying too much cash? Police can accuse you of selling drugs or laundering money and seize it, no conviction or even arrest required.
An Institute for Justice study grades state laws on how well they protect people from wrongful forfeitures. Only three states receive a B or better. The rest range from mediocre to awful—and so does federal law.
Worse, a federal legal loophole allows police and prosecutors to bypass state protections and keep pocketing forfeiture money. IJ’s research shows that the easier and more profitable these laws make forfeiture, the more it is used and abused.
Its time to end civil forfeiture. People shouldn’t have their property taken away without being convicted of a crime. And law enforcement shouldn’t be policing for profit
Learn more at http://www.ij.org/PolicingForProfit
As the Rand Corporation describes it, the process of revenue generation by local government agents is rife with conflicts of interest. “But, the devil is always in the details. Having these assets go (in whole or in part) into the budget of the department that collected them creates an incentive for them to do more-to pursue more resources,” Rand publishes.
“If a department starts to plan on having seized resources available-and to rely on them-or if officers start getting rewarded for how much revenue they bring in, the concern becomes whether law enforcement action will become driven more by the goal of revenue and less by the goal of public safety,” the corporation determined.
As for Stratham, the county’s attorney Jason M Hiveley explained, “There is some legwork involved,” but he can get his money back. The county’s legal counsel continued, “They can do it as soon as they have the evidence that they haven’t been found guilty.”
But the issue still remains to be. If the case is terminated, or if the courts rule someone is not guilty, why will not the county feel motivated to return the money without pressuring the exonerated individual to file any paperwork at all or demanding said individual to once again verify their innocence? The answer might merely be that the county wants to hold on to it.
Stratham’s attorney Michael A. Carvin apparently published in the Supreme Court brief he filed, “Revenue-starved local governments are increasingly turning toward fees like Ramsey County’s in order to bridge their budgetary gaps,” incorporating, “But the unilateral decision of a single police officer cannot possibly justify summarily confiscating money.” He said, “Providing a profit motive to make arrests…gives officers an incentive to make improper arrests.”
These People Are A Danger To Themselves And Others! Wake Up!!!!!!
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