Civil Asset Forfeiture Oklahoma
Miles to Memories reader Ninja X sent me a link to a Huffington Post article that is quite disturbing. Over the past few years there have been numerous stories about police abusing Civil Asset Forfeiture. Basically, if they suspect you of committing a crime they can take any money you have on you and seize it. People have sometimes had to fight for years to get their money back, even if they aren’t charged with a crime.
Now, it seems that Civil Asset Forfeiture is moving towards prepaid cards. So let’s say you just went to your favorite local mall and bought $10K in Visa gift cards. How would it work?
Oklahoma police agencies are being equipped with devices that allow officers to scan prepaid debit cards and target funds linked to them for civil asset forfeiture, which allows law enforcers to permanently seize property they suspect is connected to criminal activity.
But this doesn’t seem to be limited to only prepaid cards. These readers give the officers much more information.
The device tells officers the balance of prepaid debit cards and gift cards, and allows them to seize the money if they determine it’s suspicious. ERAD readers also can provide limited information about pretty much any card with a magnetic strip, including bank debit cards and credit cards.
Perhaps what is most disturbing to me is the fact that the state is paying ERAD, the company who makes the machines a commission!
Each ERAD reader is costing the state about $5,000, plus about $1,500 for training. The state has agreed to pay the manufacturer, ERAD Group, 7.7 percent of all funds forfeited with the readers.
The article is very interesting and goes on to imply that the presence of prepaid debit cards may be enough to warrant the forfeiture of said cards. So let’s go back to my previous example. You leave the mall with 20 X $500 Visa gift cards and are then pulled over. The officer sees these gift cards and suspects they are suspicious. He then scans them, takes them and ERAD makes a nice $770 commission.
Civil Asset Forfeiture is meant to combat criminal activities, but there are enough cases of the power being abused that this news is very disturbing to me. There have been many times when I have been going around the city with tons of cards and I can only imagine how that might look. Giving officers the ability to simply take the money seems a step too far.
You can find the full Huffington Post article here. It is quite a good read. So what do you think about this new technological revolution? Is it good for officers to have this power to stop crime or are you afraid it will be abused?