Policing For Profit

3546433It’s bad enough getting arrested – especially when you didn’t do anything to warrant it. This happens all the time, because the the threshold for arresting someone is very low. It can be done by any cop, pretty much anytime – without much in the way of legal justification. He has the gun – and the handcuffs, after all. If he wants to arrest you, he will arrest you. Maybe the courts will sort it out later; eventually you are released, your record “cleared.”

This isn’t new – or news.

What is new – and ought to be news – is that several states have begun charging people “processing” and “incarceration” fees for their bogus arrest and subsequent just-as-bogus caging.

Minnesota and Kentucky are among the states that levy fees on people who are merely arrested and taken to the clink… even if they are never convicted of anything. In some cases, the people being charged for “services” rendered are never formally charged with any crime (which is something a prosecutor must do; a cop hasn’t got the power to do more than arrest you on suspicion of violating a statute).

It’s policing for profit taken to the next (entirely predictable) level.

Why not, after all?

Most states already have “just take it” laws on the books that empower cops to simply seize cash and other property prior to any judicial proceeding  – and to keep it, even if there never is a judicial proceeding.

The mere fact that you have “excessive” cash on your person is sufficient legal justification in many states to result in its forfeiture – until you prove to their satisfaction it wasn’t “drug” money.

It is not their burden to establish… anything.

Franz Kafka, phone home.

We also have the equally egregious precedent of for-profit enforcement of traffic laws – coincident with the suspension (or at least, the watering down) of any semblance of procedural innocent-until-proved guilty. Cities and counties contract with a private company (the notorious Redflex being the chief profiteer) to install automated red light and speed cameras that chuck tickets to offenders automatically, via the mail – with the offender presumed guilty until he proves himself innocent.

The ticket is sent to the registered owner of the vehicle – who is not necessarily the person who was driving when the camera snapped the photo of the car’s plates and chucked a ticket to the owner. But the owner must prove it wasn’t him – as opposed to the former necessity of the state/county having to prove it was.

Meanwhile, pay up.

So it’s not surprising that states have decided to begin charging people for charging them – that is, accusing them of something. There’s even more potential profit in this since a cop can arrest anyone at any time – just about.

The evidentiary bar has been set extremely low – and whole categories of “crime” have been confected or defined so loosely (e.g., “disorderly conduct,” “interfering” with a law enforcer) as to make an arrest almost a matter of whim.

Now add a profit motive to the mix.

In economic terms, hanging a dollar sign on every citizen within handcuffing range of a cop is an incentive to handcuff as many citizens as possible. They are, after all, paying customers.

Can arrest quotas be far behind? Remember, many state/county cops already have ticket quotas, precisely because of the profit motive. And note that, in some states, even if you successfully fight a traffic ticket, you are still hit with a “processing” fee which you must pay – or else.

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