The debate over drugs in this country has become more and more ingrained into American politics and has created a lot of division of opinion. I recently posted an article regarding the DARE Program, an effort by the government to decrease drug use but fell out of favor by the liberals, was being discussed and possibly reinstated.
Then, there’s the debate regarding how we should handle drug users and offenders. Should we use negative reinforcement to get people off drugs– making it a crime and punishable by jail time– or should we take a more altruistic approach and regard drug abuse as a medical condition?
Should we consider legalizing drugs in an effort to make its use more public so the users will be less afraid to seek help?
If not, should we legalize the less harmful drugs like marijuana so we can then allocate resources to combating the harder stuff? These are the debates raging in our states’ legislatures and in DC. Another debate has recently been brought back to the spotlight: what should we do with drug dealers and more specifically with their ill-begotten gains?
We all know why people use drugs. It is the same reason people drink, smoke cigarettes, gamble, and have sex; it makes them feel good. So why do people sell drugs? It is a lucrative industry. Drug-dealers are the small-business owners of the criminal world. They engage in import/export shipments, establish a human resource structure, deal with logistics and inventory, and engage in customer service. This brings about the potential to amass considerable wealth.
This wealth, however, was gained in the act of a crime and therefore is like being in possession of a stolen item, right?
So what do we do with the all of their stuff?
We take it, of course, like a stolen item. What do we with the stuff when we get it? We can’t give it back to the people they took it from because that would be an impossible task and you would be returning cash to drug dealers and addicts. So we keep the ill-begotten gains and inject it back into our community. At least we used to before the Obama Administration.
This practice of seizing assets from drug-dealers is known as “adoptive forfeiture” and it was the law of the land until the Obama Justice Department under Eric Holder decided to change the rules. The concern that Holder had was that these assets are seized before a conviction and could be taken even if you were not found guilty of a crime.
The counter-argument to that is to allow the drug dealer to maintain their assets, particularly their money, could garner them a greater opportunity to buy top lawyers giving them an unfair financial advantage over other criminals. I understand the concern, I suppose, of the government being able to take your stuff without actually proving you guilty of a crime.
Lord knows I don’t like the government interfering in the lives of people especially taking from them without due process and cause.
I can also see the potential for corruption and abuse of power, which are mandatory characteristics for a politician, of having such a practice in place. But to remove this practice in its entirety meant that drug dealers could still reap the benefits of their crimes which I do not want either.
Apparently, the Attorney General Jeff Sessions agrees with that sentiment. He has ordered the reestablishment of the policy of adoptive forfeitures at the federal level. He will likely face backlash from rights’ groups claiming it is a breach of the 4th Amendment, but the policy would once again punish criminals and aid the local community.
I said before that we reinject the community with this money and what I meant by that was that the money is used to fund police and community efforts to tamp down on crime and drug-use.
The ill-begotten gains will once again benefit the people rather than the criminals.
Editor’s note: As an intelligence officer I worked several years against the narcotics target. To me, addictive drugs are the scourge of America, and drug dealers should be punished to the max. I’ve said many times that any drug dealer who sells to children has committed a crime equivalent to murder and should be executed.
But confiscating property without the benefit of a jury conviction is unconstitutional. It is also potentially a corruption of our crime fighting system, if the crime fighters are allowed to confiscate property for their own use. The police are very often sure they know who the criminals are, and they are often right. But the Constitution does not provide for conviction via police confidence, it always has to be from a jury.