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Monday, December 20, 2004

Asset Forfeiture 

However squalid and sordid the content of the undercover wire tapes may have been, they weren't boring. Meanwhile, all my friends who had also recently graduated were about to gnaw through the veins of their wrists because of the drudgery and tedium of their retail and entry level bank jobs. Now I didn’t care what was waiting for me at work - I was just so grateful not to be working retail at the mall. Sales clerking for Carroll Reed remains to this day the worst job I’ve ever had, and that includes the summer in Colorado when I held a job at both Pizza Hut and Dairy Queen (My Summer of Voluptuousness) and the Christmas break when I worked in the back rooms of Honey Hams blowtorching sugar onto hams for 12 hours straight a day during the seasonal rush. This is the ‘honeying’ process. (Ooops! Did I just reveal a trade secret? I think I even had to sign a non-disclosure on that one.) When I would walk home from that job I reeked so strongly of sugary ham that dogs would howl and chase after me like I was a dog in heat.

Besides learning some practical office skills, I also mastered the metric system from converting all of the various weights and measurements (ounces to grams, etc.) of seized drugs for the narcotic’s officers’ monthly statistic reports. At last I learned what the inneffectual Jimmy Carter never had the balls to force me and the rest of America learn in the 70s. I also provided entertainment to my friends whom I used to do drugs with who enjoyed calling and snickering when I answered the phone "Narcotics." Oh, how I adored my job.

One aspect of my job that I felt terrible about was typing up inventories of people’s belongings seized under asset forfeiture, one of the most insidious weapons yet in the arsenal of the War on Drugs. If the insanely destructive and unfair policy of mandatory sentencing is the Agent Orange in the War on Drugs, then asset forfeiture is the Napalm. I also believe it is highly contradictory to what our founding fathers believed, but I guess that all goes out the window what when you go to war against your own citizens. The theory behind it was that by confiscating kingpin’s ill gotten gains through asset forfeiture, agencies would hit the bad guys were it would hurt and the proceeds would be funneled back into the war. It was supposed to be used against big time dealers, the Tony Montana types who have chained tigers at their weddings and live in vulgar, over the top yet strangely fabulous mansions. That's not the case at all. Small time dealers get all of their property seized, including cars, houses, IRA accounts and family farms. It's a cash cow, and it leads to corruption, inevitably. Departments grow fat and come to rely on it. At the time I worked at the Sheriff’s Office, any proceeds from seized items were required to be used by the agency that seized it, and they would end up buying equipment and funding positions they didn’t really need even though there were other departments overwhelmed and drowning. Asset Forfeiture creates and then feeds the big anti-drug industrial complex: surveillance equipment/helicopter/gun manufacturers, the prison systems to warehouse these (for the most part) non violent people, etc. Many people's jobs and industries that rely on the War on Drugs continuing have become a strong force against any sort of reform or legalization. To be continued…

Comments:
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
 
what gives with these picky blog administrators?
 
ahhhhh, guess i should've clicked before i asked.
 
Some little 13 year old with ADHD decided to use my comments field to advertise her blog. Although that is presumptuous, I wouldn't particularly mind, but the writer is so illiterate that and I cannot subject my readers to her. Her blog is a scathing indictment against this country's public school system.
 
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