GOVERNMENT SEIZURE--JUST CAUSE?? Reprinted from Volume 1, Issue 4, FLASHPOINT
The Constitution of the United States, and our precious Bill of Rights, once safeguarded the rights of individuals. Government was not allowed to take property without just compensation. Cruel and unusual punishment was forbidden, and unreasonable search and seizure was not permitted.
In a panicked frenzy to root drugs from our school yards, playgrounds, and lives of future generations of Americans, we have allowed America's hard won rights to be forgotten. With the blessings and encouragement of the very individuals elected to protect citizen's liberties, agencies run roughshod over the American tradition of innocence until proven guilty in a court of law.
The Forfeiture Law, was originally intended to check drug sales by causing hardships to dealers. The concept was fascinating; dealers paying for their own investigation through confiscation of the property used to manufacture and transport the drugs to the consumer. Yet, over the ensuing months and years, the power has gone very wrong.
Agencies use of the law is out of control.!!!
Billions of dollars have been reaped , not only from big time multimillion dollar drug dealers, but in large part from individuals with only marginal connections to drugs. In many cases, from citizens who have never been charged with a crime, and quite frequently where citizens have been charged and cleared.
Old drug cases are often reviewed, for the set purpose of government confiscation of valuable property. In 1987, Thomas Lopes, a mentally disturbed young man, grew marijuana in a small plot of this family's home. His parents knew of their son's 'garden', but when they asked him to stop he informed them, 'Don't touch it or I'll do something to myself.'
Frustrated and frightened, uncertain of what if any action to take, and consequences for their action, the Lopes' were stymied. In 1987 Thomas, a first offender, was arrested and given probation. Four years later Federal Agents seized the Lopes home.
The agents excuse----"They (his parents) knew he was breaking the law."
The home represented 49 years of the elder Lopes' labor in a sugar plantation field, and 30 years spent scrimping and saving in crowed plantation camp housing. Their hard won security of ownership in their old age was stolen!!