Asset forfeiture, whether under civil or criminal law, is one of the most pernicious results of expanding the role of police beyond redress of crime to include prevention of crime.
Giving the state sufficiently limited powers of redress, such as investigating crime and apprehending criminals, arguably falls into the category of necessary evil. But tasking the state with crime prevention necessarily involves the use of force by the state against people who have not committed any crime at all.
The usual justification is that an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. And in the context of private precautions, like locking your doors, bearing arms, and avoiding dark alleys, this is perfectly valid.
But that argument is ruinously mis-applied in the context of state power.
Why? Because it promotes the very corruption it purports to prevent. It exerts relentless pressure to replace just laws with noxious legalistic posturing that results in wholesale violation of everyone’s rights – all under the pretext of keeping us safe.
Any limited good that may come of it in isolated instances is vastly outweighed by the grievous harm done to the fundamental principles on which the whole concept of a free society rests.
I do not say potential harm, because the harm is not potential; it is manifestly real. Severe damage has already been done to the foundations of our society. And it’s getting worse at an accelerating pace.
Many Canadians smugly believe that asset forfeiture is a uniquely American symptom of the descent into a police state, but it has deeply infected Canada, too. Others take false comfort from the stipulation in the Criminal Code that criminal asset forfeiture is predicated on a conviction, but the “crimes” that justify it under federal law can be as innocuous as conducting a transaction in cash.
And as though that weren’t bad enough, 10 of the 13 provinces and territories have civil asset forfeiture laws that don’t require a conviction of any kind; they don’t even require charges to be laid.
In Canada, civil asset forfeiture requires no involvement from any court whatsoever.
It is a purely administrative procedure, carried out at the sole discretion of unelected bureaucrats, with titles like Director of Civil Forfeiture.
That’s how bad we’ve let it get.
But, hey, at least your tax dollars aren’t paying for it. The provinces proudly tout the fact that these unelected bureaucracies are self-funding. Meaning…
They pay themselves out of the assets seized at their own sole discretion.
What could possibly go wrong?
Ironically, the crime rate is at its lowest level in recorded history, but the general public has been rendered ignorant of the lessons of history, and things like “drug trafficking,” “terrorism,” and “child pornography” have been exaggerated out of all proportion – while others, like “enterprise crime,” “gun crime,” and “hate crime,” have been manufactured out of whole cloth – until we the people are so terrified and confused that we willingly acquiesce to the systematic dismantlement of our own rights and freedoms, that our forefathers bled and died for.
George Bernard Shaw saw it coming:
The evil of the corruption and falsification of law, religion, education and public opinion is so enormous that the minds of ordinary people are unable to grasp it.
The role of the police is to uphold the rule of law.
Not to ‘preserve peace’ nor to ‘prevent crime’.
And certainly not to get rich off of taking stuff from the citizenry.
Actually, that whole concept of ‘police crime prevention initiatives’ gets my blood boiling because it necessitates pre-crime policing of us all….and yes, that is exactly what it sounds like. Limiting civil liberties without any crime having taken place!