South Carolina Sheriffs Less Interested In Enforcing Laws Than Taking Stuff

from the my-own-private-Nottingham dept

It’s not like we need any more evidence showing asset forfeiture has almost nothing to do with enforcing laws or breaking up criminal organizations. But law enforcement agencies just keep generating damning data.

The Charleston Post and Courier’s article on the subject runs under an innocuous title that seems to put the blame on the federal government for the asset forfeiture sins of local police, but the article tells a completely different story. The officers and officials quoted in the story make noises about taking down criminals, but the greedy devil is in the details.

Every year in Spartanburg County, the Sheriff’s Office organizes a week-long crackdown on Interstates 26 and 85 involving multiple local and federal agencies. They call it “Rolling Thunder.”

Cool name. About as cool as the “interdiction teams” Rolling Thunder contains, which makes it sound as though officers are seriously engaged in disrupting drug trafficking. And the numbers here show the week-long effort did indeed result in a whole lot of searches.

During the March operation, deputies and their colleagues pulled over 1,110 motorists — the majority of whom were black or Hispanic — mostly for infractions such as making improper lane changes or following too closely. Police searched 158 vehicles, including large tour buses. Drug-detecting dogs sniffed around 105 vehicles, and the tour bus luggage…

But did it result in a whole lot of drug traffickers being shown the (jail) door? Of course not.

Just eight felony arrests were made, but police found and seized 233 pounds of marijuana, nearly 8 kilos of cocaine, 164 ounces of heroin, more than 4,800 prescription drug items, 65 grams of methamphetamine, $139,320 in cash and counterfeit consumer products.

Why even make the slightest effort to prosecute when civil asset forfeiture allows you to make nearly no effort at all? Here’s Rolling Thunder “participant” trophy-winner Sheriff Chuck Wright making claims about the wondrous works of interdiction teams.

“You’re not going to do this here and get a free pass,” Wright said. “People in Spartanburg County elected me to enforce all laws, and that’s what I’m going to do.”

“The proof is in the pudding. Look around. Do you want this in your street?” Wright said.

But a free pass is exactly what most people got. Eight felony arrests arising from 158 vehicle searches which turned up a whole bunch of drugs and cash. Not sure how a search-and-release program isn’t a “free pass” or does anything to prevent more drugs from ending up on the street. Drug producers can always produce more drugs. And as long as their mules aren’t sitting in jail, they should have little trouble moving product from point A to B.

The most damning fact is this: South Carolina law enforcement agencies simply stopped enforcing laws when told they weren’t allowed to enrich themselves through asset forfeiture. When the federal government briefly shut down its equitable sharing program — which allowed agencies to route around state forfeiture restrictions to stake a larger claim of seized property — local agencies shut down their drug interdiction efforts.

“The tip of the spear has just been blunted — it’s got no point now,” Charleston County Sheriff Al Cannon said at the time.

Hampton County suspended drug interdiction patrols until the payment program resumed.

This is the ugly reality of asset forfeiture. It’s not about laws. Or drugs. Or taking down drug cartels. It’s about taking stuff from people with a minimum of legal fuss. When the going gets tough, the tough shut down. What began as a well-intentioned notion has become a mockery of property rights and due process.

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Comments on “South Carolina Sheriffs Less Interested In Enforcing Laws Than Taking Stuff”

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Uriel-238 (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: "help and proper recourse for your grievances"

In a lot of places in the US, this is a false promise. Police called may take a statement but they have little interest in investigating crimes against people they don’t like. Many communities instead rely on neighborhood communities for aid and streetgangs to provide protection from violent crime. In short, urban feudalism.

Granted, many precincts, at least out here in the west, are looking to curb bad policing (e.g. brutality, abuse of probable cause, even asset forfeiture) because of the rifts of distrust that have formed between law enforcement and the public. But these are nucleations in a solution of corruption, exceptions to the rule, and even in public-rights-savvy regions like San Francisco, we’ll still see overreach and excessive, sometimes lethal, use of force.

That One Guy (profile) says:

"If I'm not getting a bonus for it why should I care?"

"The tip of the spear has just been blunted — it’s got no point now," Charleston County Sheriff Al Cannon said at the time.

Hampton County suspended drug interdiction patrols until the payment program resumed.

And in one single move they demonstrate that they only care about drugs so long as they can profit from them. It’s not about ‘protecting the public’ or ‘putting those criminals away’, the only thing they care about was ‘How much money can I get from this?’ As soon as it stopped being profitable they stopped caring, making it clear that they were only interested so long as it worked as an easy way to pad the budget and/or their wallets.

Wendy Cockcroft (user link) says:

Re: Re: Re: "If I'm not getting a bonus for it why should I care?"

What, so "leftist" now means "rule of law," does it?

12. Obsession with Crime and Punishment – Under fascist regimes, the police are given almost limitless power to enforce laws. The people are often willing to overlook police abuses and even forego civil liberties in the name of patriotism. There is often a national police force with virtually unlimited power in fascist nations. –, The 14 Defining Characteristics Of Fascism

If that’s where you’re coming from it’s no wonder you consider due process an impediment to justice. Be careful, Judge Dredd, you may find that the long arm of the law doesn’t land as lightly on your collar should you find yourself in a constitution-free zone one day.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:3 "If I'm not getting a bonus for it why should I care?"

No, I specifically called you a Lesbian Separatist, as explained below, because of your well documented vehement condemnation of all things associated with men and government. Like Mr. Diaz, for example, and the “authoritarian state” you go on about, that kind of thing. You’re special.

Rapnel (profile) says:

.. meanwhile, Jake beats the shit out of the mother of his children and she’s bruised and scared in public. Chuck just got another DWI, that makes 11, and a close-call just two days before Rolling Thunder kicked off. Three people got the shit kicked out of them simply for being off-white, probably and Officer Smith has seventeen complaints for excessive force and two for manipulating evidence. He just got off of vacation so I guess it’s in the past.

The war on drugs was tailor made for thugs. Of course it’s easy pickings on the freeway, free people sometimes act funny. Why not take some money?

Anonymous Coward says:

Might sound like I’m playing devil’s advocate here, that’s not my intention but I do have questions. Where does the money from siezed assets go? Into the pockets of the local cops or into local or station funds? Which could be funding the annual office party or paying for new equipment, I’m not assuming, does anyone know? Are they doing this because they are under-funded? Is this the case?

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

In my experience, Police Departments are always underfunded. They have such broad and diverse responsibilities, from educating the public, visiting schools, training with other departments, practicing their emergency procedures, dealing with the press, and of course, protecting citizens from harm (in many forms) they are always underfunded, without exception. There is always more good they could do with more money.

teka says:

Re: Re: Re:

“there is always more good they could do with more money”

If that is what you think then we should fund them better as part of our civil process, not give them a blank check that is ‘cashed’ out of the pockets of anyone that they pulled over for a busted tail-light, “random” drug checkpoint or driving while wrong-colored

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

Well, I dunno, I guess that judgement, like beauty, is someone in the eye of the beholder. Let’s see – more tax dolllars out of my pocket, or more drug dollars out of the pockets of Criminals. I vote for the Criminals to pay my tax – for example, I think it should cost at least $10 to use the word “LEO”. That way, we could tax the Criminals and normal law abiding citizens could invest in their retirement. Or buy a six pack of beer. I leave an extra tip for that cute waitress, that kind of thing.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Re:

When a single organization combines the roles of investigation, judgment and punishment, they are well down the road of becoming the new incarnation of the Spanish Inquisition. Such an organization can protect themselves, and those in power, by destroying anybody who could possibly pass on inconvenient truths about them.

Matthew Cline (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Re:

Let’s see – more tax dolllars out of my pocket, or more drug dollars out of the pockets of Criminals. I vote for the Criminals to pay my tax

Except that with asset seizure there’s no requirement that the people seized from be found guilty in a court of law. You’re okay with the police acting as judge, jury and executioner when it comes to seizing assets from those they view to be criminals?

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:3 Re:

Jeez, you guys are sure upset about this. To be honest, I’ve never seen it happen, or heard about it happening, other than in (very) one sided and opinionated pieces like the article above.

Is your angst really directed at this practice, or are you upset generally about something, and this just sets you off again? The article isn’t specific enough to really be upset about, I mean, so what if fewer arrests are made and more drugs are sized? Seizing drugs in a good thing, right? Who knows why they didn’t arrest more. Generally, seizing illegal drugs, illegal weapons (linked hand grandes or bazookas) or other illegal things would be considered a success for law enforcement, right?

There is a whole group of really upset people in this blog, some of them obviously intelligent and pretty good writers. I’m just missing the explanation for the angst – is it American culture, or International culture, or the concept of making money, or respecting law enforcement, or laws themselves, or government itself? Everyone seems upset about something (and I admit I get unduly upset too sometimes) but I can’t put my finger on what they are upset about. It can’t really be some small town Sherriff and his arrest record, right?

Stephen T. Stone (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:4 Re:

Possessing and selling drugs is illegal. So why did the police not arrest all those people who were carrying all those drugs? The hard answer to that question: They did make the right number of arrests — and the rest of those searches were to find anything they could legally take under asset forfeiture practices while letting off those who were not carrying drugs with a “warning” or a ticket.

The United States legal system operates on a principle of “innocent until proven guilty”—that is, a person walks into a courtroom as an innocent party and must have their guilt proven. Asset forfeiture sidesteps this principle by allowing the police to seize anything of value held by a suspected criminal without first obtaining a criminal conviction. It allows cops to become de facto judges who determine a person’s guilt on the spot and seize possessions without so much as a trial (or possibly even an arrest).

The culture of policing in the United States has enough issues as it is. It does not need to add this one into that already volatile mix.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:3 Re:

I don’t think you understand me. Here in the Berkshires, we have pancake dinners, usually at the local firehouse, but they have a place to seat people, where their trucks usually go. Sometimes the police are hosted there, too. You pay $6 for some fresh (kinda medium good) pancakes, but the money goes to help the firefighters and police, so everyone pretends to enjoy them. It’s a social event, very nice actually, and you get the feeling of family with the local police and firefighters. They have a bowl there, too, like a church bowl, so if you want to contribute some more, you can. They don’t pass the bowl around, they’re not pushy, but it’s there and obvious for all to see. It’s a cultural thing here, I think you’d like it if you ever came. You’d see police and firefighters from a different angle when you sit in their place and eat and chat and hangout with them.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Live and learn

The whole article is a stretch, don’t you think? What would you do better than the Police if it were your job? There is a real need to honest citizens to be protected from criminals, whether they be drug dealers, ISIS terrorists, domestic terrorists, stick-up artists, child pornographers, gang members or others in the host of threats to the public. Are you really going to single out a single practice by a single Police force and try to infer there is something wrong with the law or with society? It seems like a HUGE stretch to me, but then again, I’m not a radicalized leftist. I’m a normal American citizen. To me, the whole article sounds weird from the get-go.

Wendy Cockcroft (user link) says:

Re: Re: Live and learn

All we ask is that the police are subject to the law and that they adhere to due process, i.e. do their damn job instead of preying on citizens.

If they’re under-resourced the citizens of their districts are going to have to have a grown-up conversation about how to fund their law enforcement agencies properly. Highway robbery at badgepoint is not acceptable in a civilised society. That’s what we’re complaining about. Be assured that while they’re walking away with your TV tucked under their arms they’re doing nothing to protect you from the bad guys enumerated in your list.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re: Live and learn

Excuse me, Wendy, are you saying “damn job” about American Police while you sit in England? Who are you to condemn American Police (just asking)?

Maybe you could focus your complaining on something in your own country. How about those Muslim “no-go” zones, maybe you’d like to touch on how extremely intelligent that is?

We don’t have that problem in the US, because we assimilate better. I don’t think we could assimilate you, but for normal people, they have no problem fitting in.

Wendy Cockcroft says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Live and learn

Excuse me, AC, I’m not afraid to give out my name because I’ve got nothing to hide. I realise it makes me a bit of a target for having unapproved views but that’s a risk I’m willing to take.

I’ve got family in America.

There are no Muslim no-go zones in this country. If you ever find one, let me know.

As for assimilation, a 17yo Muslim girl was murdered recently just as she left a mosque. Perhaps if you stopped spreading hateful messages along the lines of “The Muzzies are taking over our country!” the likelihood of another crime like that would be reduced.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:3 Live and learn

Well, if I’m wrong about the Muslim neighborhoods in London that practice Sharea law, than sorry. I haven’t actually seen them myself, only heard about them. If you say they’re not real, OK.

London does look like a hotbed at the moment, I agree everyone should be throwing water on that fire.

XcOM987 (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:4 Live and learn

There is no such place, the so called experts that have appeared on new sites in America have been shot down in amazing fashion when in the same sentence he proclaimed that Birmingham was a no go zone, I mean come on, I was in birmingham recently, it’s not a no go zone, the place is a huge city.

Yes there are area’s within the UK such as places in London where the population is mostly non english but that doesn’t make them no go zones, if anything there was quite a parody made of it afterwards.

It would be nice if you could back up your claim of locations in london where Sharea Law rules?

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:5 Live and learn

I said I was sorry already if I was wrong – there are a lot of people who report on this kind of thing, so perhaps I have been mislead. I must say it’s a scary thought, so maybe it’s fear mongering, I don’t know. I can’t back it up because I have never been, I have just heard about it, as millions of people have. That doesn’t make it true, of course, any more than Russia collusion with Trump is true. I did hear something the other day that I did like about collusion – that Trump colluded with the American people – that’s how all the pollsters were wrong – collusion. Kind of true, no?

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Live and learn

Dismiss an argument because of the persons location, nice dodge there Biff.

Perhaps you could address each line item expressed rather than a blanket “lalala I cant hear you” type of response. I realize that is asking a bit much of people like yourself, but wth, give it try why dont ya.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:3 "Assimilate better"

Gosh, you seem upset. Maybe you’re right, I do more easily seem to accept Americans that look like me, meaning dressed for work, act like me, meaning that take care of their home and families, talk like me, meaning speak English, and worship the same gods, meaning the “turn the other cheek” and “do unto others” kind. I do get along better with people like me, I do not feel like a repressed minority, I feel like I am similar to the majority of Americans.

XcOM987 (profile) says:

Re: Re: Live and learn

if it were me and I did things differently, I would have filed charges against every one of the persons caught with the drugs or such, anyone else would have been free to go without any seasure.

The difference between the number of car’s stopped, quantity of drugs located, and the number of people charged is way off.

I law was designed with best intentions, but when departments start creating shopping lists or basing their budget around asset forfiture then it’s not being applied correctly.

That One Guy (profile) says:

Re: "What shenanigans are you trying to pull calling yourself 'Fox News', I don't see a single fox anywhere!"

Because it nicely demonstrates the mind-controlling coding buried in some TD articles that forces you to come here and read articles that you have no interest in.

Don’t know about you but that strikes me at least as some pretty impressive tech.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

There isn’t a direct connection. I have been reading Tech Dirt a long time and one thing I appreciate is that they go off on bunny trails. Allows you to get a much better picture in the long run. Along the police lines, there are many stories of good technology helping police and the public, “body cams”, but many places don’t want to implement it. After reading the many stories of dubious dealings with cops, it is easy to see that many officers would rather keep doing things that are legally correct but not morally correct. It is a lot harder to impound cash if the only thing against them was just having a lot of cash.

stderric (profile) says:

"You’re not going to do this here and get a free pass,” Wright said.

"This" being "drive through the county on the interstate at 65mph, probably without even stopping for gas."

People in Spartanburg County elected me to enforce all laws, and that’s what I’m going to do.

On a non-forfeiture note, how long since anyone’s heard a LEO talk about ‘upholding the law’ or ‘keeping the peace’? They really seem fixated on the connotations of domination and control that comes with ‘enforce’… which is more in line with a blitzkrieg than with ‘protecting and serving.’

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

Well, yes, I am, actually. I really don’t know what a LEO is. And I don’t understand the reference to “domination and control” and “blitzkrieg”, this sounds Nazi to me, is the poster a Nazi? Are you a Nazi? Do you often use phrases like this about our proud American Police? Are you a Black Lives Matter “Pigs In A Blanket – Fry ‘Em Up” kinda person? Maybe an AntiFa? You know, the fascists that destroy property and injure people to prevent “fascists” from speaking? Is this their language?

Cowardly Lion says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Re:

LEO stands for “Law Enforcement Officer”. Speaking of obscure references, I’m not quite sure what an “AntiFa” is, but I imagine I can find out in a minute or two via that Font of All Knowledge, the Internet.

I’d also like to compliment you on your fine grammar, however, do be careful when starting sentences with “And”, and misplacing those pesky commas…

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:4 Re:

Just a small question – don’t you think “LEO” is both strangely imprecise and subtly degrading? Law Enforcement Officer could be Police, Sherriff, FBI, CIA, NSF, a Judge, etc. and so on. Strange way to talk about them, no(?), as if they are aligned and indistinguishable from each other. It’s like criminal talk, right, because criminals are at risk from ANY law enforcement officer. Normal people see Police as their local protection force, FBI as the national protection force, CIA as the international protection force, and so on, right? I’ve never met anyone that uses the term LEO, except on this web site. Is it a term of the Leftist Separatists? Most people wouldn’t know this term, right?

Uriel-238 (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:5 LEO may be a local shorthand.

I will often refer to law enforcement officers, but I don’t expect the acronym to be understood except by those accustomed to talking about this topic.

But judges are not LEOs. Members of the Department of Justice are, which would include those within law enforcement agencies: local precincts, the Sheriff’s department, marshals, FBI, ATFE, DEA and so on.

CIA is its own thing, not law enforcement but intelligence and espionage (and counter-espionage). Interestingly, the FBI is no longer officially law enforcement but instead seeks to preserve national security, a goal which gives it a much wider range of latitude.

Regardless, they all do align when it comes to wrangling property via asset forfeiture. We’ve seen articles here about how the TSA discovered someone transporting cash, reported it to the DHS who then relayed the intel to local law enforcement. The (completely legal) money was seized and they all profited. Law enforcement agencies will gladly cooperate when there is mutual benefit for all of them.

Remember that we all are criminals. You are guilty of numerous crimes that would, on conviction, put you in prison for over ten years. It is only prosecutorial discretion that keeps you free. The average American commits about three felonies a day.

Is it degrading? I don’t think so. I tend to avoid degrading language when being critical, as I want the focus on the critique, not the disparagement. But I find cop to be degrading, where I find law enforcement or police or officer to be neutral.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:6 LEO may be a local shorthand.

Well, that’s pretty well said, except for us all being criminals. I don’t think that’s true. While many people may technically violate some interpretation of some law (a few times a day, as you said) I don’t think that’s enough to make you a criminal. I think society tends to try to reinforce hard working family oriented tax paying contributors to society. Personally, I think you have to stray pretty far from that, repeatedly, to create any real criminal jeopardy. Not sure I’m right, but that’s how I see it.

Stephen T. Stone (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:7 LEO may be a local shorthand.

Well, that’s pretty well said, except for us all being criminals. I don’t think that’s true.

No, it is. At any given point in a day, you are likely breaking at least one law, even if it is only a misdemeanor. For example: If you watch a video clip on YouTube that was not uploaded by the copyright owner, you have technically committed an act of copyright infringement by creating a copy of that illegally-uploaded video in your computer’s temporary storage.

Uriel-238 (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:7 LEO may be a local shorthand.

The law doesn’t work on ambiguous terms like that. If we could count on jurists to interpret the law reasonably, decide what behavior is or isn’t a danger to society and proceed from there, then yes.

But instead our judges have just as much bias as the rest of us and are eager to secure convictions rather than see justice done, even if it means putting innocent people in prison.

Our impacted prisons, our sky-high incarceration rates (in comparison to other nations) and our disproportionate minority prison population are all evidence that law is not enforced equally or fairly.

For me, it’s the whistleblowers and hacktivists getting put way for murder-length sentences thanks to the CFAA and Espionage acts, both of which overreach into very common practices.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:8 LEO may be a local shorthand.

Wow, you sure have a different view than mine. Judges have opinions, I agree with that, and they have good days and bad days just like the rest of us. Sometimes it’s not as fair as it should be, but by and large they both do their best and achieve pretty respectable results, or are reversed by others. Prisons, yeah, they are more full of the maladjusted, which is not too unexpected, right? Could we as a society do more for those that are well meaning but deprived, yes, but well meaning and hard working and fair play actually get you farther in our culture than any other. I mean, I understand your criticism, my point is, compared to what? Utopia?

Uriel-238 (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:9 "Prisons full of maladjusted"

Any criminal is a failure of the state to relate to the individual as well as vice versa. Our high numbers of prisoners do not indicate a higher rate of maladjustment, nor that we’re better at getting criminals off the streets (we still have plenty of crime).

Considering our scathingly high conviction rate, our system that rewards conviction (rather than determining the truth and seeing justice done) our tolerance for perjury by officers of the DoJ, especially in court testimony, and our inability to convict officers for even murder caught on video, our justice system is such a failure that it is possible (though impossible to confirm) that we have more innocent civilians in prison than guilty. We certainly have more people in jail for minor crimes such as possession than convicts of major crimes, such as bank robbers, rapists and first-degree murderers.

Meanwhile we’ve witnessed ongoing rulings that indicate clearly that judges cannot be impartial. Their entire job is to be able to divorce themselves of bias and provide opinions that are entirely rational, and they fail to do that.

Most famously is Antonin Scalia’s opinion that Jack Bauer’s use of torture (in the TV series 24) justifies its use by the United States, never mind that torture doesn’t yield sound intel, never mind that it’s heinous and inhumane. Never mind that we’ve never used it for anything as desperate as a ticking time-bomb scenario, nor could our torture program resolve an imminent-crisis situation such as a ticking time-bomb. A US Supreme Court justice was swayed by a fictional television program to justify torture.

I can’t get past that. To me, that right there is an indictment of the fallibility of human beings, and their incompetence to adjudicate.

Our prisoners have all been convicted under a failed justice system, and in that regard, they are all political prisoners. And yet, to this day we regard them as maladjusted and revel in mistreatment of them. To us on the outside, prison rape is even a joke that we’ll allude to on children’s cartoons.

So yes, absolutely the United States could do better. But we don’t even try.

Wendy Cockcroft (user link) says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Re:

LEO = Law enforcement officer.

Some cops — and entire departments — are behaving so badly it’s causing an outcry. I’m glad you’ve not been subject to this but statistically it might happen to you. I’m not sure whether trying to reassure the cop you’re not a radical leftist, etc., will save you if you’ve got a big wedge of wonga in your wallet and the drug dog alerts.

If they did what they’re actually supposed to they would get a warrant based on reasonable suspicion, then get a conviction before confiscating your property. But where the drug wars are concerned, you have no property rights if a cop merely suspects you are involved in it.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:3 Re:

Well, Wendy, you’re British, right, so you’re speaking about British cops, right?

Of course everything in American society is easier if you are wealthy. It’s just difficult to get wealthy, it takes persistence, hard work, fair dealing, a good reputation, people who trust you, that kind of thing.

If you fit the model of an upstanding citizens, most Police respect you immediately, regardless of your race, color, sex or background. Money talks, for sure. Respect goes a long way, too. I only met one Police officer in my life that I thought was really difficult, but that was because I was sleeping with his ex-wife. Understandable, right?

What about you, Wendy – did you have a bad experience with your British Coppers? Want to share?

Uriel-238 (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:4 Getting wealthy takes luck.

More than any other factor, attaining any reasonable amount of wealth in US society takes a considerable amount of luck. As one presentation put it, each project, each small business, each new innovative project is a lottery ticket, and the odds are not in the favor of a startup strapped for capital.

But in the United States, minorities are harassed by the police for non-major crimes (e.g. staying past curfew, loitering) way more per capita than whites. People without lawyers have a 90% chance of getting convicted regardless of guilt. Most are driven to plea-bargain. And public defense is underbudgeted in every state, so that ever public defender’s case load is grossly impacted.

If you are affluent enough to afford your own lawyer, and if your assets are not seized before you retain one (very common) then you might get to see the kind of justice we are allegedly guaranteed in the US. (Still, expect the police to lie and for judges and juries to hold the honor of the police in higher esteem than clear video evidence to the contrary). Most of us fall through the cracks if we are ever unfortunate enough to cross paths with a police officer on a bad day.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:5 Getting wealthy takes luck.

Respectfully, your premise is false. If you want to make money in small, medium or large amounts, you want to be in the USA. The laws here dramatically favor the inventive and hard working, which is the whole point of the copyright and patent law that keeps getting trashed here. Say what you will, the US is the best place in the world, BY FAR, to move up the economic ladder. BY FAR. Really. Try the same thing in Russia, never going to happen.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:6 Getting wealthy takes luck.

The laws here dramatically favor the inventive and hard working, which is the whole point of the copyright and patent law that keeps getting trashed here.

The only small businesses that benefit from those laws work out of lawyers offices, and tax the hardworking people whenever they gain enough money to be worth suing.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:7 Getting wealthy takes luck.

Respectfully, that is not true at all. Every company you know benefits from those laws. Even this very site benefits from copyright laws. The whole open source community inflicts their will on others (like forcing a, b or c) using copyright law. Pretty much the entire world as we know it revolves around these laws. What you say could not be further from the truth. You are totally and completely wrong.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:8 Getting wealthy takes luck.

Have you not noticed that the ones who benefit most from strong copyright are the gate keepers like labels and studios. Pre-copyright, and now on YouTube, creators can get patronage to support them in creating new works, rather than selling copies of already created work. They do not need copyright, because it is their ability to create new works that gains them there income, and that cannot be pirated.

Similarly in open source, and increasingly in small businesses, co-operation and sharing of ideas and techniques is proving more powerful than hoarding a small amount of creativity and using it to block competition.

Those who most wish to control the use of created works are in general, (there are exceptions), those who lack creativity, and therefore overvalue the works that they can gain control over, or perhaps they fear that someone creative will take an idea, run with it and produce a much better product.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:9 Getting wealthy takes luck.

No I have not noticed that those who benefit the most are gatekeepers. By “labels and studios”, do you mean the people who finance, contract, create, promote and distribute the most creative art on the planet (movies)? They finance it, they contract it, they promote it, and it’s the best in the world. What is your problem with it? It should be free? What? Disney movies alone are better than nearly any other product created anywhere in the world. Who doesn’t need copyright? Everyone needs copyright, even open source needs it. What kind of argument is that you don’t need to protect old work, just create new work that you can’t protect either? That sounds stupid, honestly. Sharing everything? Are you crazy? Share customer lists, right, just give them to your competition, share trademarks, so your customers can’t identify your product, share your menus so a restaurant can open next door with the same name and the same products? Are you crazy? Every business has information to protect a variety of ways, and 99% of it all is totally legitimate and essential to commerce. Creative people everywhere depend on these IP laws every single day. I personally knew hundreds of them, just in Hollywood. Not “gate keepers”, creative artists. If you want a sample, take look at CreativeCow. Great place filled with actual artists. Actual ones.

XcOM987 (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:10 Getting wealthy takes luck.

I think what they were alluding to is the way that Studio’s get paid sevral times over, there are some artists who’s bill to studio’s has gone up over time even though they pay them back.

So if a studio loans a band 100k, the promotion, fee’s, studio costs etc etc all come out of that 100k, then as the records sell the studio takes’s their cut, they leave the band with a very small proportion, which has to be used to pay for the production of said media, then after that whatever is left goes back to the studio to pay off what they loaned them, this way the band some times never break even with the labels or studios.

As for the movie industry some if not most of them do some amazing maths to show that films like the highest grossing movie of all time (Taking inflation in to account) has never made a profit and as such hasn’t paid out to some of the staff, so I refuse to believe that people are going unpaid because of any other reason other than hollywood accounting:

The industry doesn’t want indie artists as they are making a product that engages with the pubic, and in return they are making money out of it, and the labels aren’t.

And are you seriously telling me that Disney would no longer bother making anything else ever if Mickey Mouse went in to the public domain, 70 years after it’s creator died?

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:11 Getting wealthy takes luck.

Well, this just shows again how far apart we are in our world views. I love Disney movies, really I do, no satire. I love Mickey and Minnie mouse too, a lot, I even call my wife Minnie sometimes. I’ll tell you a story about a friend of mine. He used to run a stripper for hire business, but it fell on hard times, so he dressed his girls up as Disney characters and transitioned to the birthday party market. Disney sued him (I was aghast), it took a long time, but in the end, Disney recognized there was a market for Disney characters at birthday parties – so as part of the settlement, this guy got an exclusive license for a large section of the US for Disney characters at birthday parties. Cool, right? That’s the real world, and this is a true story, it all turned out fine. People protect their property, but usually, are happy to work out deals that are mutually beneficial with other well meaning people. It’s not nearly as draconian as described in this blog.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:12 Getting wealthy takes luck.

All these “true stories” and yet, absolutely no proof of identity. You’d think someone who’s claimed:

– to be an inventor severely harmed by Techdirt
– lived the sort of sob success story with deceased parents etc.
– has a dead brother with a lesbian activist wife
– has money bleeding out of his ears

Would be capable of proving his significance to the world aside from inventing Melania/Shiva fanfiction. But no, he’d rather complain on a website he hates.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:6 Getting wealthy takes luck.

“The laws here dramatically favor the inventive and hard working, which is the whole point of the copyright and patent law”

The laws here dramatically favor the monied interests and hard-ons, which is the whole point of the “IP” laws.
– FTFY –

“the US is the best place in the world”

By what parameter(s) do you make this determination and what study or studies did you research in said determination?
– as if I will get a response that addresses any of this –

Uriel-238 (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:6 Getting wealthy takes luck.

That Russia is worse doesn’t make the US better. If we were looking for economic policies to emulate, I’d look to Germany or Sweden, but I don’t have the numbers on hand.

Regardless, we treat our impoverished and working class like shit. We draw the poverty line way below living expenses, and then we begrudge those on welfare basics like a working refrigerator or running water.

And upward mobility is accessible only to those well connected with those above them. Intra-office promotion depends on connections within the office. The startup route presumes that your job means something over time, which is to say your company rises and beats out competitors. But that means either there are no competitors (thanks to anti-competitive practices) or all those competing companies have workers whose careers are tanking.

To borrow a parable from Cracked if you toss a bottle of whiskey into a box car full of transients, only one of them is going to end up drunk.

(That’s not actually true according to the transients I know. In transient society, most of them share what they got when they got it, so everyone would end up tipsy.)

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:7 Getting wealthy takes luck.

Respectfully, I just don’t agree. I was impoverished, mother died, father remarried, literally on the streets while in High School. Worked as a busboy, a sandwich meat slicer (took some meat from my hand) then got a job as a keypunch operator at the University. Got some tuition subsidies, job promotions (IBM OS/360 Systems Programmer), better jobs (micro coding storage systems), started my own companies, learned how to raise capital, sold my companies to public companies, viola. Upward mobility is accessible to those who want it. That is, those who really want it, really want to make money and build a better life. Lots of people gave me a break in my life, no I gave a lot of breaks too. Upward mobility is much more a real thing in the US than anywhere else. Not as you describe at all.

Uriel-238 (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:8 "If I made it from poverty, everyone else can too!"

I’m not saying you didn’t work hard. I’m saying there are tens of millions working as hard as you did, if not harder, and are going to stay impoverished, not because of bad life choices, but because of circumstances.

I’m saying you got lucky. You got opportunities to rise that many, many people do not get. You won where most people lose.

I get it’s easier to digest our nation’s poverty and misery when we imagine that they somehow deserve it for being short of character, but that genuinely isn’t the case.

Also conspicuous is that the groups that love fetuses (or at least hate people who abort them) also seem to be not-too-fond of children, as most of our children are impoverished, and children tend to lock families into poverty, and they don’t care one whit about children’s welfare except when saying so furthers their own agenda.

Wendy Cockcroft (user link) says:

Re: Re: Re:4 Re:

LOL @ all of the above, AC.

Well, Wendy, you’re British, right, so you’re speaking about British cops, right?

UK cops don’t carry out asset forfeiture, that’s done via the courts after a conviction has been secured. We believe in due process over here.

Of course everything in American society is easier if you are wealthy. It’s just difficult to get wealthy, it takes persistence, hard work, fair dealing, a good reputation, people who trust you, that kind of thing.

Ever heard of Donald Trump? George Soros? Martin Shkreli? I could make the list longer if you like.

If you fit the model of an upstanding citizens, most Police respect you immediately, regardless of your race, color, sex or background. Money talks, for sure. Respect goes a long way, too. I only met one Police officer in my life that I thought was really difficult, but that was because I was sleeping with his ex-wife. Understandable, right?

Your business is your own but a shedload of lawsuits for excessive force and civil rights violations contradicts your narrative.

What about you, Wendy – did you have a bad experience with your British Coppers? Want to share?

Our police are the best in the world. While it’s true you get the odd bad egg, they’re mostly decent, friendly folk who gladly give directions and other assistance. I’ve got this to share: one time I was in a car that had a blow-out on the motorway. We managed to get on to the hard shoulder and were trying to fit the spare tyre. The motorway police showed up and promptly gave us a hand with it to get us back on the road. UK cops for the win!

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:5 Re:

The humor on this site is so strange. Obviously President Donald J. Trump exhibits all of these qualities, as well as some not so perfect. I say, so what, who’s perfect? You think he doesn’t work hard or does not deal with people fairly? Outside of the “Resistance”, he has a GREAT reputation, people who trust him, and LOADS of people who support him, like me. 🙂

Uriel-238 (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:6 fair dealing? a good reputation?

Trump is renowned for breaking contracts and refusing to pay his workers throughout his business career. There are still dozens, if not hundreds of cases from before Trump’s presidency for his fraud.

At this point I have to assume you’ve been isolated form the outside world, or you are outright delusional.

So why are you commenting on this site again? Are you trolling?

Go catch up on current events, pal.

My_Name_Here says:

And? I don’t see a problem here. Expecting sheriffs to understand the letter of the law they enforce is the same as asking police to understand the laws they enforce: it boils down to equipping every LEO with a lawyer, which I am sure is what Masnick wants to drag on the arrest process and validate criminals.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:

Which constitution are you referring to, Wendy? The American Constitution, the British “unwritten” Constitution or the Constitution of the Lesbian Separatists, where you are President of the Local? There are differences between them, especially the Lesbians.

This is your “sister”, right?

Don’t you think her writing sounds exactly like yours?

Anonymous Coward says:

We seem to be concerned that the arrests to stuff found ratio seems off, here, because, I mean that’s a fair amount of drugs found, which is ostensibly the purpose of the operation. My question is, how many arrests would be needed before you say “hey, that’s ok, that’s a good job”? How many people had misdemeanor arrests, because the cops took their “personal stash” or whatever, but it didn’t rise to the level of full-on trafficking (per statute or otherwise)?

XcOM987 (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:

I don’t think anyone has any problem with this persay, it’s more the fact the money and goods are being taken from people without cases being brought against people, the items are found guilty, point and case is the suit brought against (And I am not making this up)US Govenment Vs $124,700

There should be due process, Yes sieze the money, but a case MUST be brought against the owner, if convicted and found guilty they the items are gone and become property of the state to be used to help people that are victims of crime seeing as the products are a result of said crime.

If found innocent then the defendent get’s it all back, 100% of it.

That’s how it should work but it doesn’t.$124,700_in_U.S._Currency

Uriel-238 (profile) says:

Re: Re: "I love the idea of the Police taking money from Criminals."

What about the police taking money from innocent civilians? That’s the problem. They’re not seizing the assets of convicts, they’re seizing the assets of unconvicted suspects, and then often not even bothering charging them with a crime.

Remember you too are a criminal who, but for the notice of an ambitious prosecutor, has so far escaped investigation and indictment.

Uriel-238 (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:2 "They can seize all the meth they want"

Except contraband is not what is being seized. In fact, the police have been favoring stopping vehicles that are more likely to be flush with cash than potential mules.

And in some counties, if a police officer spies a sweet ride he wishes was his own? Seized. The news is chock full of incidents in which innocent people had their savings taken based on a dubious probable-cause justification and are now wending their way through the super-tedious appeal process.

The police are seizing more money than is stolen in all the burglaries in the US, to the tune of about five billion a year, and it’s changed the outright purpose of much of our law enforcement to literal highway robbery. It just happens to be endorsed by the state.

I get that you want to believe that you are safe, that our law enforcement are on your side, and that’s generally so if you’re white and affluent enough to afford your own lawyer, and manage to retain one before your assets are frozen.

But for the rest of us, no, the Department of Justice is as self serving as the Sicilian mafia, much to the chagrin of local chiefs who are witnessing the trust between the people and their precincts dissolve like coral reefs.

Anonymous Coward says:

Memories: Operation Rolling Thunder

Wikipedia: Operation Rolling Thunder

Operation Rolling Thunder was the title of a gradual and sustained aerial bombardment campaign conducted by the U.S. 2nd Air Division (later Seventh Air Force), U.S. Navy, and Republic of Vietnam Air Force (VNAF) against the Democratic Republic of Vietnam (North Vietnam) from 2 March 1965 until 2 November 1968, during the Vietnam War. . . .

The operation became the most intense air/ground battle waged during the Cold War period . . .


Further see: Operation Linebacker (May – October 1972), Operation Linebacker II (December 1972), and Paris Peace Accords.

Uriel-238 (profile) says:

Re: Wanna put a fast end to this?

…and according to Charleston County Sheriff Al Cannon, why bother enforcing the law, then? Apparently a yearly salary isn’t enough.

If I recall my history correctly, the holy inquisition and witchhunts really got going once the prosecutors were allowed to seize and keep the assets of the accused.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Wanna put a fast end to this?

Yes, I believe true as well. But come on, you’re staying at a very high level of abstraction to make a point, right? Seizing illegal drugs is just good, right, and not a witch hunt. Drug dealers are real, and drug trafficking is real, and slow it down is a good thing. I get your point, but you are leaping from the abstract to the concrete without enough consideration.

That One Guy (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Wanna put a fast end to this?

Hampton County suspended drug interdiction patrols until the payment program resumed.

There is nothing ‘abstract’ about the fact that when they no longer were able to profit off of ‘drug interdiction patrols’ they stopped engaging in them. They cared about drug busts only so long as they were able to profit from them, and as soon as that wasn’t the case they lost all interest, making their actual motivations pretty clear.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Wanna put a fast end to this?

Well, I guess that’s makes you a witness, Judge and jury, right, passing judgement on people totally unknown to you in response to an obviously biased and incomplete article. You and your little circle on this angry site speaking to subjects about which you know little or nothing. Typical.

That One Guy (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:3 Wanna put a fast end to this?

Unless you want to say that the source material is factually incorrect, your faux outrage and insults doesn’t actually refute the points.

  1. They were engaged in ‘drug interdiction patrols’ when they got a cut of the money gained from it.
  2. A budget cut of various programs resulting in them no longer getting a cut.
  3. They stopped doing drug interdiction patrols.
  4. If the only thing that changed was that they were no longer profiting from the activity then it seems pretty obvious that the reason they did it was for the money, not ‘stopping drug trafficking’ or whatever other excuse they wanted to use.

Now you could respond with a reasoned counter-argument as to why this isn’t likely the case, or you could double-down on the insults and accusations. I’ll let you decide which route you want to take.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:4 Wanna put a fast end to this?

Blah, blah, bah, there is no reporting here, just suspicion, conclusion and a one sided debate. Get real. Any serious reporting lays out two sides of a issue, not just one. There is always two sides. Let’s hear the Sherriff speak to explain their rationale, that would be journalism. Present both sides, or admit this is just another one sided propaganda piece.

For example, I learned in my Statistics class, there is a HGUE correlation between diaper rash and highway miles constructed. HUGE. Not causal. Understand? Two things that happen do not automagically mean one caused the other.

Your use of the word “profiting” is also silly, as if they take the money home for themselves. Ridiculous word in this case.

Dumb article and dumb arguments. Study a little journalism, or read some history.

Stephen T. Stone (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:5 Wanna put a fast end to this?

Any serious reporting lays out two sides of a issue, not just one.

Just because an issue has “two sides” (or possibly more) does not mean that all sides have equal validity. When one side is completely full of shit, it not worth engaging — other than to present accurate information which rebuts the people who take that side and their uninformed opinions.

Take asset forfeiture. If you want to argue for or against the procedure on the merits, go right ahead. But do not insult us by arguing that the police should have the unquestioned privilege of seizing property from people who have not been convicted of (or possibly arrested for) a crime. We know that such an argument is full of shit.

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