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Thread: Police Deemed "Money Making Venture" not "Independent Branch of Government"

  1. #1

    Police Deemed "Money Making Venture" not "Independent Branch of Government"

    How you could go to debtors' prison in the U.S.

    What started as a ticket for making an illegal left turn ended up with a Georgia teenager spending five days in a county jail. That's because 19-year-old Kevin Thompson couldn't quickly pay $838 in fines and fees related to the traffic offense.

    Thompson described his time in jail "as the worst in his life," said Nusrat Choudhury, the American Civil Liberties Union attorney who represented the teen in filing a federal lawsuit.

    Although DeKalb County and Judicial Correctional Services (JCS) settled the case for $70,000 a year ago, what happened to Thompson still occurs, and it's not confined to one part of the country.

    "These practices are rampant across the country, most recently in Louisiana," Lauren-Brooke Eisen, a senior counsel with the Justice Program at the Brennan Center for Justice at NYU School of Law, said.

    "Fees and fines emerged as a powerful funding mechanism when state legislatures balked at raising revenue."

    An increasing number of states and localities look to close budget gaps through fees and fines accessed through the criminal justice system. The scenario has created a cottage industry of for-profit probation companies like JCS, which oversee payment plans and collect fines and fees on behalf of municipalities.

    In 2010, the ACLU found "this troubling trend in five states, and since then an additional three to four states," Choudhury said. "In 2015 alone, the ACLU and its affiliates files lawsuits in Georgia, Mississippi, Washington and Michigan," she said.

    "This is a problem that truly spans the country."

    "Since the Great Recession we've seen a dramatic rise. What we've seen is hard-pressed state and local governments increasingly relying on fine and fee collection to fill budget gaps," Choudhury said. "There's a conflict of interest when government is collecting money it depends on but is also charged with enforcing fair and impersonal criminal justice. So, courts should not be revenue generators and neither should the police."

    The practice has also caught the attention of the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ), which this month sent out reminders that jailing indigent people for failing to pay fines violates the U.S. Constitution, a notion the U.S. Supreme Court has upheld.

    On March 14, The DOJ said it was mailing a letter to state court administrators suggesting "alternative practices that can address legitimate public safety needs while protecting the rights of participants in the justice system." It also reiterated the findings of the government's probe of the police department and court system in Ferguson, Missouri, which was

    deemed to be a money-making venture,
    rather than an independent branch of government.

    "The letter shows true leadership challenging the phenomena known as a modern-day debtor's prison. In one strike the Department of Justice is telling courts across the country to guard against the illegal jailing of poor people without constitutional safeguards," the ACLU's Choudhury said. "What it amounts to is a call for state courts to adopt the kind of standards that the ACLU has been advocating for years in one fell swoop before they are sued."

    In some parts of the country, defendants are not given a judicial hearing until their debts are paid, an

    "unconstitutional practice" that is frequently "framed as a routine administrative matter."

    It also cautioned against the use of having private companies enforce debt collection or probation and letting those firms profit from fines they add to what the defendants already owe courts.

    NYU's Eisen called the DOJ's steps "significant and important," saying "it's very rare for the department to issue a letter like this to judges."

    "Fifty-two years after Gideon versus Wainwright was decided by the Supreme Court, we are still seeing ways in which one of our most cherished ideals has been overlaid with costs that are really borne by those who can least afford to pay," U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch told a two-day panel in December. "When bail is set unreasonably high, people are behind bars only because they are poor, not because they are a danger or a flight risk."

    "What was occurring in Ferguson, and sadly other towns, was shameful and unacceptable municipal court and law enforcement practices that together

    worked to turn the justice system into a for-profit enterprise,"

    Lynch told the December session.

    She recounted the story of an individual who had been issued two traffic tickets in 2007 and fined $152. "By the time our report was issued in 2015, she had paid $550 to the city in fines and fees, had been arrested twice for unpaid tickets and spent six days in jail." And after paying $550, that person still owed $541, so the original fine had ballooned to over $1,000, Lynch said.

    In addition, the DOJ said it would offer $2.5 million in grants to help courts revamp their fine policies.

    The financial help should help provide incentives to "local jurisdictions that don't have a lot of funding, that's why we have fines and fees," Eisen said. "There's potential to spur innovation when you're looking at these practices. Even small changes, like letting them use a credit card rather than a certified check."

    The issue has fostered an alliance between civil rights groups and conservative activist Grover Norquist, with the president of Americans for Tax Reform speaking at the same December panel as Lynch.

    "When I was a kid," Norquist said, "my parents always said if you have trouble, go to the policeman, he's your friend. I've never heard it said about IRS agents. Yet we've turned at the local level a lot of the police force into tax collectors."

    In Ferguson, the city's finance director offered advice to the police chief in a March 2010 letter, warning that "unless ticket writing ramps up significantly before the end of the year," the city faced a budget shortfall, said Norquist. He added that a state lawmaker had told him

    police officers would get little notices along with their paychecks, warning:

    "If we don't get more tickets,
    there won't be
    pay increases."

    "If we don't get more
    there won't be
    pay increases."

    "If we don't get more tickets,
    there won't be
    pay increases."

    "If we don't get more tickets,
    there won't be
    pay increases."

    "If we don't get more
    there won't be
    pay increases."
    Last edited by presence; 03-21-2016 at 07:51 AM.

    'We endorse the idea of voluntarism; self-responsibility: Family, friends, and churches to solve problems, rather than saying that some monolithic government is going to make you take care of yourself and be a better person. It's a preposterous notion: It never worked, it never will. The government can't make you a better person; it can't make you follow good habits.' - Ron Paul 1988

    Awareness is the Root of Liberation Revolution is Action upon Revelation

    'Resistance and Disobedience in Economic Activity is the Most Moral Human Action Possible' - SEK3

    Flectere si nequeo superos, Acheronta movebo.

    ...the familiar ritual of institutional self-absolution...
    ...for protecting them, by mock trial, from punishment...

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  3. #2
    Highwaymen, thieves and robbers.

  4. #3
    but......but........without cops......madmax.......warlords
    Last edited by ZENemy; 03-21-2016 at 11:22 AM.
    "One thing my years in Washington taught me is that most politicians are followers, not leaders. Therefore we should not waste time and resources trying to educate politicians. Politicians will not support individual liberty and limited government unless and until they are forced to do so by the people," says Ron Paul."

  5. #4
    Fear of man will prove to be a snare, but whoever trusts in the LORD is kept safe. Proverbs 29:25
    "I think the propaganda machine is the biggest problem that we face today in trying to get the truth out to people."
    Ron Paul

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  6. #5
    Funny , that is how most govt acts , as a money making venture .

  7. #6
    Police departments and their jurisdictional sponsors (towns, cities, counties, etc) are for-profit corporations and have been for a long time. Ever seen a police car where the name of the jurisdiction and the word "police" aren't in all capital letters? All caps = corporation.
    "Let it not be said that we did nothing."-Ron Paul

    "We have set them on the hobby-horse of an idea about the absorption of individuality by the symbolic unit of COLLECTIVISM. They have never yet and they never will have the sense to reflect that this hobby-horse is a manifest violation of the most important law of nature, which has established from the very creation of the world one unit unlike another and precisely for the purpose of instituting individuality."- A Quote From Some Old Book

  8. #7
    Crime Historians and Stick-Up Men

    What they do is show up after the crime has occurred, take down a report, and then use the report to document that crime is out of control but would not be if only we had more and better-paid cops. They are essentially crime historians. As Ron Paul once said, the reason you are safe in your home is not because the cops are riding around town but because of the Second Amendment.

    The second function of the police is to collect taxes from us for parking too long while shopping, not wearing seat belts, etc. Every cop understands that he is a revenue-gathering machine, and that that revenue is necessary to pay his salary and perks.
    Based on the idea of natural rights, government secures those rights to the individual by strictly negative intervention, making justice costless and easy of access; and beyond that it does not go. The State, on the other hand, both in its genesis and by its primary intention, is purely anti-social. It is not based on the idea of natural rights, but on the idea that the individual has no rights except those that the State may provisionally grant him. It has always made justice costly and difficult of access, and has invariably held itself above justice and common morality whenever it could advantage itself by so doing.
    --Albert J. Nock

  9. #8
    This doesn't need to be about debtor's prisons.
    Between the various Bodies exhibits, and the existing market for parts that Planned Parenthood opened up, there should be absolutely no reason to incarcerate those who can't pay.
    There are no crimes against people.
    There are only crimes against the state.
    And the state will never, ever choose to hold accountable its agents, because a thing can not commit a crime against itself.

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  11. #9
    Quote Originally Posted by ZENemy View Post
    but......but........without cops......madmax.......warlords
    Tough to have traffic offenses without roads.
    Anarchy FTW.
    All modern revolutions have ended in a reinforcement of the power of the State.
    -Albert Camus

  12. #10
    Quote Originally Posted by oyarde View Post
    Funny , that is how most govt acts , as a money making venture .
    Yep, they didn't start calling them Revenuers for nothing.

  13. #11
    Quote Originally Posted by fisharmor View Post
    This doesn't need to be about debtor's prisons.
    Between the various Bodies exhibits, and the existing market for parts that Planned Parenthood opened up, there should be absolutely no reason to incarcerate those who can't pay.
    Larry Niven used organ donors and the consequences of them as part of his known space series of books. The black market term was organlegging .

    Since the average citizens wished to extend their lives, the world government sought to increase the supply by executing condemned criminals to supply the organ banks. When this failed to meet the demand, citizens would vote for the death penalty for more and more trivial crimes. First violent crimes, then theft, tax evasion, false advertising, and even traffic violations became punishable by the organ banks. This led to a disturbing discovery; in Niven's universe, many actions deemed "criminal" had a genetic propensity, and by harvesting these individuals for their organs, that propensity was eliminated from the gene pool. By the 22nd century, every crime on Earth merited the death penalty - but as a result of generations of summary execution, "Flatlander" psychology was irreversibly transformed into a society of near-total pacifism and submission to authority, which supplied no donors for the organ banks.

    Further attempts to alleviate the problem by declaring, in stages, cryogenically frozen people to be dead in law (the so-called "Freezer Bills") and harvesting their organs also proved to be unsuccessful. The freezer vaults represented a finite supply and therefore were eventually exhausted.
    “…let us teach them that all who draw breath are of equal worth, and that those who seek to press heel upon the throat of liberty, will fall to the cry of FREEDOM!!!” – Spartacus, War of the Damned

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