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The Almighty Buck Crime

DOJ Cracking Down On Profit-Driven Policing, Audit Looks At How Far It's Spread (muckrock.com) 210

v3rgEz writes: Federal civil rights officials at the Department of Justice are launching an effort to combat widespread constitutional abuses in U.S. courts in the hope of ending budget-driven policies that cripple those unable to afford fines and fees for minor offenses, the Huffington Post reports. The DOJ's focus on court fees and bail practices follows the Ferguson report which found officials had colluded to raise revenue when they hit residents with exorbitantly high fines and fees, regardless of their ability to pay, and jailed people to extract the money. The Sunlight Foundation and MuckRock recently launched an audit to see how widely the practice has spread.
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DOJ Cracking Down On Profit-Driven Policing, Audit Looks At How Far It's Spread

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  • Everywhere (Score:5, Informative)

    by Aero77 ( 1242364 ) on Wednesday December 02, 2015 @08:35PM (#51045665)
    It's everywhere, you don't have to be a minority to get hit with excessive fines for minor (usually traffic) offenses.
    • by Sowelu ( 713889 )

      Well, define excessive. If the tickets for improper HOV lane usage were lower, I'd probably be that asshole who uses it with no passengers all the time. Risk has to be greater than reward for disobeying.

      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward
        How about ridiculously low B.A.C.'s which lead to DUI's or DWAI's and the non-stop barrage of fees and fines and general loss of rights for consuming a legal product. I'm in no way advocating drunk driving, but come on, in some parts of the country if you have 1 beer you're technically breaking the law, regardless as to whether or not you're actually impaired and shouldn't be operating a motor vehicle. May be the DOJ can look at the MADD cartel next.
        • by mvdwege ( 243851 )

          Who is putting a gun to your head to have a beer?

      • by Ol Olsoc ( 1175323 ) on Wednesday December 02, 2015 @09:26PM (#51046103)

        Well, define excessive. If the tickets for improper HOV lane usage were lower, I'd probably be that asshole who uses it with no passengers all the time. Risk has to be greater than reward for disobeying.

        Snipers?

        • by q4Fry ( 1322209 )

          The signs says "Speed enforced by Aircraft," but I have yet to see them strafe anyone.

      • Courts have the means to deal with repeat offenders. A small fine is usually enough for most people to go "I won't do that again". But if you are serial violater of HOV rules, then a judge is going to start nailing you harder and harder.

        • by AK Marc ( 707885 )
          Nope. HOV infractions and speed cameras are often purely non-criminal. Like the citation is given to the car, not the driver. This is done because it's easier to collect and convict. But it also means that most are set up where you could get 1,000,000 of them, and so long as you paid the fine on time, there'd never be an escalation of penalty. Yes, you could change that, but it would be a fundamental change to the unattended ticket system, one that only barely holds on because so many people are agains
      • by nobuddy ( 952985 )

        Use the solution that Denver chose- make the HOV lanes toll as well. No pass or toll booth. Cameras cover use of the lane. One person in car- bill mailed to the owner of the car. No fine, no patrols, no enforcement on the road. Just a toll for using the HOV lane.

      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward

        Well, define excessive. If the tickets for improper HOV lane usage were lower, I'd probably be that asshole who uses it with no passengers all the time. Risk has to be greater than reward for disobeying.

        Simple solution, do what a lot of countries in Europe do, base the fine off a percentage of your yearly income. The rich asshole who uses his cell phone without a hands free device pays a $10,000 fine while the average Joe pays, say $1000 and the poor pays like $50. The fine should be large enough to hurt, but not enough to cause serious financial problems unless the person is a repeat offender too stupid to change their behavior.

      • by Kohath ( 38547 )

        If the tickets for improper HOV lane usage were lower, I'd probably be that asshole who uses it with no passengers all the time.

        Would that be the end of the world? Is it worth all the bad things that come with higher fines and enforcement by armed officers to keep it from happening?

        I don't think it is. At some point you just have to say "we aren't going to micromanage everyone's daily driving using fines backed by government bullying, ultimately backed by armed enforcement". Instead of pretending we can micromanage everyone, let's just build safe, efficient roads, safe cars, and concentrate the enforcement on drunk or reckless dr

    • Re:Everywhere (Score:5, Insightful)

      by C0R1D4N ( 970153 ) on Wednesday December 02, 2015 @08:59PM (#51045901)
      Simpler solution. Eliminate fines for motor vehicle offenses. Use a points only system. Rack up x number of points, one month suspension, more, 6 months, then a year, then permanent. Let the points decay at a reasonable rate. Should affect all drivers equally regardless of wealth.
      • Re:Everywhere (Score:5, Insightful)

        by andymadigan ( 792996 ) <<amadigan> <at> <gmail.com>> on Wednesday December 02, 2015 @09:11PM (#51045995)
        And the punishment for driving on a suspended/revoked license is?

        No, there's a simpler solution than that: don't let municipalities keep the money from traffic tickets (or any kind of fine). The payments should be made directly to the state's general fund. Take away the profit motive, no more profit based policing.
        • You can't win by sending the money to the state. Greed always follows the money, whichever coffer it goes to.

          Still, I agree you have to have the fines, because nothing gets people's attention like having to pay money.

          Maybe we should consider the British system, which imposes fines based on a percentage of the offender's income.

          • You could impose public service. Run a red light, pick up garbage for 100 hours.
          • No it doesn't. That progressive scheme, introduced in the '90s by John Major's Tory government, was abandoned after a short time amid stories in the press of excessive fines for trivial offences (usually because the person ignored the summons). The status quo was restored and the well-off could breathe easily again.

            • The status quo was restored and the well-off could breathe easily again.

              That is why the status quo is the status quo.

        • Re:Everywhere (Score:5, Interesting)

          by ToddDTaft ( 170931 ) on Thursday December 03, 2015 @01:31AM (#51047209)

          No, there's a simpler solution than that: don't let municipalities keep the money from traffic tickets (or any kind of fine). The payments should be made directly to the state's general fund. Take away the profit motive, no more profit based policing.

          North Carolina does this. The state constitution actually requires that all fines collected "shall be faithfully appropriated and used exclusively for maintaining free public schools."

          I've seen this work to have the desired effect.

          The campus police at some of the state universities used to issue all sorts of nuisance parking tickets for things like "parked too close to line". At the time, the universities were keeping the money from the fines. Quite a few years ago, there was a legal case that went to the state supreme court where they ruled that the universities couldn't keep the money. After that, the number of nuisance fines dramatically decreased, even though officials claimed that there was no correlation between these events.

          • Not just North Carolina. In Missouri the law requires that anything seized through equitable sharing must go into the state's educational fund, and we don't have many problems with asset forfeiture.

          • Brilliant. Thanks for sharing that.
        • And the punishment for driving on a suspended/revoked license is? No, there's a simpler solution than that: don't let municipalities keep the money from traffic tickets (or any kind of fine). The payments should be made directly to the state's general fund. Take away the profit motive, no more profit based policing.

          That is inadequate because then the state will start pressuring municipalities to issue fines. In fact, in most states, the state already gets a portion and already encourages municipalities to issue fines. The solution is to one of two things: Lump the money from the fines into different categories and issue rebates (income based) to people who do not receive a fine of that type for the year or donate the money to charities. The difficulty with charities is that it would be very easy to subvert that an

      • Every county gets to make it's own laws. in NY that is generally how it is handled at the state level, however each county can add it's own fees to cover court and processing costs.

        So you pay your fine and then another $30-$100 to cover the cost of court.

        It is why gun laws are so poorly defined, and enforced. every county has it's own gun laws. not just state, but county.

        • Every county gets to make it's own laws. in NY that is generally how it is handled at the state level, however each county can add it's own fees to cover court and processing costs.

          So you pay your fine and then another $30-$100 to cover the cost of court.

          It is why gun laws are so poorly defined, and enforced. every county has it's own gun laws. not just state, but county.

          I never understood the concept of tacking a "court cost" onto the amount of a ticket. If not for things like the courts and criminal justice system, why are we paying taxes? If they want to move away from taxation and adopt usage fees instead, we can have that debate, but right now they seem to want to do both. It's effectively double-dipping.

          • by Kohath ( 38547 )

            If not for things like the courts and criminal justice system, why are we paying taxes?

            To pay for pensions and giveaways to non-workers.

      • by glitch! ( 57276 )

        Simpler solution. Eliminate fines for motor vehicle offenses. Use a points only system.

        I think you are almost there. I think that most motor vehicle offenses are various levels of reckless driving, ranging from a California stop to killing people. Why not treat all these as crimes? If there is a verdict of guilty, the driver will have to spend time in jail. Run a red light and endanger other drivers? That's one night in jail. Show up at 7PM and leave at 6AM. No exceptions, and no buying out. Get caught driving drunk? That's one week in jail. Work it out with your boss. Injure someone because

        • by AK Marc ( 707885 )
          They are crimes, they are just too expensive to prosecute, so they are fined, rather than prosecuted. Everywhere in the US, running a stop sign can land you in jail, not just a fine. But nobody does because the costs of prosecuting someone for criminal bad driving exceed the perceived benefits from doing so. The traffic courts are set up as a revenue stream, and if the prosecution isn't profitable, it won't be done, no matter what the effect on safety would be.
      • by Ihlosi ( 895663 )
        Should affect all drivers equally regardless of wealth.

        Except for those who can afford a chauffeur.

      • Points system? Nah ... humbug. Cash is better. Much better.

        But let's face it, it's always the Human factor that's the problem, right? Driving Under Influence, speed violations, failing to signal turns, red light running ...

        So let's do something radical!

        Ban all manually operated vehicles from public roads and mandate fully automatic vehicles throughout. Prohibit the production of cars with manual controls. That will get you 100% compliance with all and any traffic regulations.

        Problem solved. Right?

        • there are people working on that. Though it's probably a minimum of 25 years before it's implemented on a wide scale.
      • The problem is that for many people outside major cities, there is no alternative way to get to work. When I worked a manufacturing job in college one of my coworkers was a guy who was driving without a license to and from work each day because his choices were "drive without a legal license" or "be unemployed".
    • Re:Everywhere (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Darinbob ( 1142669 ) on Wednesday December 02, 2015 @09:15PM (#51046029)

      True, but $1000 for me is not much pain compared to $1000 for someone who needs to skip meals to save money. Or are you one of those getting jailed over fines until you can manage to raise the money from family and friends? The problem is not high fees for minor traffic offenses, but the shake down from police officers and engaging in debtors prisosn in order to raise money. But points for the attempt at empathy.

      "In its majestic equality, the law forbids rich and poor alike to sleep under bridges, beg in the streets and steal loaves of bread." -- Anatole France.

      • The British system imposes fines based on a percentage of the offender's income. Maybe this would even things out a bit, and be more of an incentive for those of us who are well off as well.

        • by jaseuk ( 217780 )

          No we don't, but financial circumstances are taken into account. However, these are capped, so the rich don't suffer. I think it's Finland that link fines to percentages of weekly incoming or something.

          Jason

    • If you read the report on Ferguson, it's worse than that. Someone is issued a fine, and when they fail to pay by a certain date they receive no second or third notice and are instead jailed for three days and then released and issued an additional fine for failing to pay the first fine on time. Then the person pays off the first fine and part of the second but can't scrape together the money to pay the rest of the second fine, so they're jailed again and issued a third fine.

      But the Ferguson police wou
      • Kind of hard to claim grievances if you're the primary offender.

        Even harder when you use racism against whites to justify looting, rioting, and non-enforcement of laws for black thuggery.

        The only thing that should have happened in Missouri is for law enforcement to be as strict as Singapore. For every cry of racism, act with more strictness. Stop only when the black racists (and their financial backers) are soundly defeated, spines broken.

  • by Joe_Dragon ( 2206452 ) on Wednesday December 02, 2015 @08:38PM (#51045683)

    Ban speed cameras and red light ones a lot of them are rigged to make more profit by erroring in the states favor

    • Bear in mind those radars are pretty error prone to start off with they shouldn't be admissible as evidence
    • You don't need to ban anything. You just need to provide an audit trail. In Australia they send you 2 photos one of your before the intersection showing the red light, and one of you going through the intersection showing you didn't just happen to stop over the line, and along with it a link to a video of you getting caught complete with several seconds of footage either side.

      You don't need to ban something because it can be abused.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday December 02, 2015 @08:45PM (#51045757)

    How about they also do away with Civil Asset Forfeiture considering that cops have now stolen more from people than all burglaries combined last year, and most likely this year as well.

    https://www.washingtonpost.com... [washingtonpost.com]

    Coupled with all the other crimes committed by cops and the "justice" system over the years, like the Cash for Kids program, how are these people any different from a government sanctioned mob? Then there are the dimwitted idiots that are still defending these monsters, is this really the society we want?

    • CAF was originally created to fight the mafia and rich drug dealers who had the money to hire the best lawyers and to take their assets away so they wouldn't have anything to come back to after jail. it's like everything, after the problem goes away you find new ways to enforce laws
      • by Darinbob ( 1142669 ) on Wednesday December 02, 2015 @09:21PM (#51046067)

        Perhaps there was an original reason, but there are a couple problems. First it has been expanded well beyond the original concept. And second there is no proof necessary before forfeiture happens. It would be blatantly unconstitutional if it were not for the Supreme Court siding with the hysterical tough-on-crime folks.

        "No person shall ... be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation. "

      • CAF was originally created to fight the mafia and rich drug dealers who had the money to hire the best lawyers and to take their assets away so they wouldn't have anything to come back to after jail. it's like everything, after the problem goes away you find new ways to enforce laws

        Giving the executive branch more powers to fix such problems is a really, really bad idea.

      • CAF was originally created to fight the mafia and rich drug dealers who had the money to hire the best lawyers and to take their assets away so they wouldn't have anything to come back to after jail.

        Indeed, so write the law so the effect is to freeze assets, which would then be forfeited if a successful conviction happens.

        No conviction, no crime. No crime, no forfeiture.

      • So, what I read here is that "the best lawyers" can make violating the law not matter and that this is fine for hereditary wealth but not for mafia wealth. How about we ditch CAF and go to single payer for lawyers? This would also greatly level the legal playing field between individuals and corporate entities.
      • CAF was originally created to fight the mafia and rich drug dealers who had the money to hire the best lawyers and to take their assets away so they wouldn't have anything to come back to after jail

        And anti-drug laws were originally created for all the wrong reasons, all of which are profit-centered. We could go down the list as usual but that would be tedious. Suffice to say that Big Pharma and Big Prison are the Big Supporters of the War On Some Drugs. Suffice to say that when you combine CAF with unsupported drug policies, the result is that the laws were created specifically to enable theft from people committing victimless "crimes".

        • Plus the penalties for crack - more frequently used by blacks - were literally ten times higher than the penalties for using cocaine. So it got to be abusive of power, legalized theft, and racist too!
    • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday December 02, 2015 @09:03PM (#51045941)

      This, so much. In some jurisdictions the police can and will seize your car for something as relatively benign as soliciting a prostitute. And when you know that finding a tenth of a gram of marijuana in someone's car means your department gets to seize and sell that car, even if the person is never charged with a crime, there is a huge incentive to plant evidence and engage in other corrupt activities.

      Civil asset forfeiture needs to stop.

      • by AmiMoJo ( 196126 )

        It discourages foreign investment too. A lot of Chinese people have been complaining (in a series of stories on state television) that they tried to buy property in the US, took cash for a deposit and the police stole it.

    • by HiThere ( 15173 )

      As I understand it (see other posts for the official line sold to the public) the purpose is to deprive people of the ability to hire lawyers to defend themselves. I don't believe that there is any requirement that guilt be proven, or even that charges be formally filed. The first time I heard of it being used it was against a doctor who was prescribing more pain medication than the DIA thought was appropriate.

      • As I understand it (see other posts for the official line sold to the public) the purpose is to deprive people of the ability to hire lawyers to defend themselves.

        So the intention is to rob the accused (who is innocent until proven guilty) of a chance to confront his accusers and achieve the good representation that true due process requires?

        This intention is already manifest in other ways. The worst of which is the prosecutorial abuse of the system. The prosecutor completely throws the book at someone, tacking on multiple charges leading to years of imprisonment for a comparatively minor offense, but then offers a reasonable sentence if the accused pleads guilt

        • by HiThere ( 15173 )

          Yeah, that's the way I read it. Mind you, it's gotten a lot worse than what I suppose the original purpose to have been.

  • Loretta Lynch (Score:5, Informative)

    by frovingslosh ( 582462 ) on Wednesday December 02, 2015 @08:53PM (#51045839)
    Hard to believe that the D.O.J. is cracking down on Profit-Driven Policing when Obama's new Attorney General has been a huge advocate of "civil forfeiture" where the government takes your money without charging you with any crime or even having any suspicion that you committed any crime. I even saw sign on Interstate 70 this summer when driving through Kansas that there "checkpoints" ahead to check for "drugs" or "cash". Just part of the government's war on citizens.
  • I used to live (Score:4, Interesting)

    by penguinoid ( 724646 ) on Wednesday December 02, 2015 @08:54PM (#51045849) Homepage Journal

    I used to live in a place where the usual way to deal with speeding was to pay the standard bribe. If it was a bus, the bribe was bigger but the passengers would pitch in without complaint. As far as I can tell, that system worked very well for traffic violations and way better than the American system, where everyone is pretending they don't do bribes but instead they do it via crappy laws/policies and more inefficiently. Another similarity/difference is, there officers' salaries were reduced to account for the traffic violation income, while in the US police department budget is reduced to account for the traffic violation income.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday December 02, 2015 @08:56PM (#51045871)

    This is actually a very serious problem, and the linked articles don't do a good job explaining the actual issue.

    There are a lot of people who a 375$ fine (minimum for speeding in a construction zone nearby) for speeding is not something they can immediately pay, and may be 30% or more of their monthly income. If you can't pay immediately, you have to make a deal with whoever the Police contract out to.

    The trick is that a lot of those poeple charge an initial fee for the service along with interest and continuing fees, and any payment you make goes toward their fees and interest BEFORE it starts paying the actual fine down. These fees are typically 20% of the original fine or more, and for low income people make it effectively impossible to pay their actual fine.

    This then leads them to paying hundreds of dollars over the original fine, with none of it going to the original fine until the point where they are then jailed for not paying the fine. It is pure and out right corruption and fraud, and heavy legal action needs to be taken against any county or company that is involved.

    • I used to work nights on a road directing traffic. Every time I put on the reflective vest, I got to see the blood stain from my predecessor who got hit when someone didn't think they really needed to heed the warning signs.

      Yes, a speeding fine in an area where pedestrians are present should make your life hell for a while. You're risking someone else's life for the sake of getting to your destination a few seconds earlier. You don't get that right, regardless of how high or low your income is.

      • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday December 02, 2015 @11:25PM (#51046735)

        Yes, a speeding fine in an area where pedestrians are present should make your life hell for a while.

        Doesn't stop anyone speeding and driving dangerously next to cyclists and other pedestrians, no matter how much I agree.

        But what the GP was talking about is that flat fines are stupid and you appear to missed the point. If someone makes $60k/yr, a $300 fine is an "inconvenient tax" on them, and their opinion is that they did nothing wrong, like most here. But if you make $10k/yr, $300 fine can be crippling. And then there are people that make $200+k, and for them a $300 fine is hustle, nothing more.

        Perhaps a better system would be to base fines on person's annual income. Like 1% of their yearly income, with $50 floor (considering driving costs money anyway). So a $10k/yr poor person pays $100, which is a lot of money for them. But a $100k/yr upper middle class person pays $1000. And it's $10k fine for the $1m/yr upper class person. Then such a fine is painful for everyone involved, not just the poorest.

        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by Anonymous Coward

          their opinion is that they did nothing wrong, like most here

          When you see speed limits decrease from 55 mph to 25 mph on an 8 lane divided highway with no pedestrians, no cyclists, no residential zones and no driveways to turn off onto, you kind of start to understand how the system works. Then the 25 mph sign is taken down, so it's a speed trap without any posted speed limit signs. The county will park about 12 cop cars out there to write tickets to the people who have no clue that the speed limit goes from 55 mph to 25 mph. 911 response for things like home inva

        • The OP said nothing about flat fines. Rather, he mentioned a minimum that imposes a hardship on someone with low income, and complains that the fine and associated fees should be lower. I'm suggesting that the total cost should be weighed against the health of another human being.

          In some jurisdictions, including the one where I worked, judges already have the (seldom-used) ability to raise the fine to meet the goals of fairness, retribution, and rehabilitation. I do think that should be utilized more, but t

          • by Cederic ( 9623 )

            You're missing his point entirely.

            His point is that people with low income/assets are unable to pay the fine, and any money that they do pay goes on interest and fees, not the fine.

            This means that irrespective of whether the fine adequately compensates for the risk to human health or not, someone's getting fucked over by the system.

            The amount of the fine is totally fucking irrelevant, it's the way in which it's levied that's the issue.

            Now do you understand, or should we offer to cover the fine for the perso

        • by wings ( 27310 )

          It is a good idea but I suspect the problem will become accurately determine someone's income or net compensation. Without a way to do that you'll have CEOs that accept a token $1 salary only paying the minimum fines.

      • Yes, a speeding fine in an area where pedestrians are present should make your life hell for a while. You're risking someone else's life for the sake of getting to your destination a few seconds earlier. You don't get that right, regardless of how high or low your income is.

        The problem is that the speeding fine is in effect at midnight when there's no pedestrians around, too. A law that says thou shalt always slow down for a construction zone is stupid, especially since we recently got the law that isn't stupid: slow down or switch lanes while you go past construction crews. The signage (the "zone") is there to inform you of possible pedestrians. The requirement to your behavior should be related to the pedestrians, not the signs. And road works should be designed with barrier

        • I worked at a theater. We had pedestrian crowds at midday and at midnight. My post was actually usually guiding trucks out the back, which put me standing just around a blind corner on the road.

          Are you suggesting that we barricade the road before every performance ends? Should we redesign the city's roads to allow a few trucks to pull out easily each week? Or maybe, just maybe, drivers should be aware that they're operating a machine that can easily kill or maim people with only a moment's notice.

  • Start in Texas (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday December 02, 2015 @08:57PM (#51045883)

    Let them start with the double jeopardy they call the "Texas driver responsibility program". Pay a ticket, then also an exorbitant surcharge to the "Municipal Services Bureau" which is a private company. If you don't pay the surcharge, the private company suspends your license until you do... You pay the surcharge just for getting the ticket, whether the ticket was dismissed or not.

    Like I said double jeopardy.

    • Let them start with the double jeopardy they call the "Texas driver responsibility program". Pay a ticket, then also an exorbitant surcharge to the "Municipal Services Bureau" which is a private company. If you don't pay the surcharge, the private company suspends your license until you do... You pay the surcharge just for getting the ticket, whether the ticket was dismissed or not.

      Like I said double jeopardy.

      I can't get my WA drivers licence because those scumbags have it blocked for some tickets I got in ~2002 (I moved away from TX shortly after highschool). All my actual fines (my "debt to society") have been paid. This bastard ass private corp has my license for Ransome to the tune of $2,500 in "surcharges" (the exact term listed on the paperwork I got).

      • PS: I just want to reiterate, THE STRUGGLE IS REAL. In addition to those fines I owe TX, I now owe WA $2,100 for getting a ticket for no license or insurance. They ran my plate and saw the car was registered to someone who only had a state ID and decided to pull me over and ask me a few questions. After ransaking my car, they let me go with a ticket. As it turns out, driving without a license is only an arrestable offense if you fail to provide a valid ID at the time of the offense. I got lucky that time (g
  • by AHuxley ( 892839 ) on Wednesday December 02, 2015 @08:59PM (#51045905) Homepage Journal
    The problem is the tool set of advance electronics tracking, on going maintenance costs of "free" military hardware at a city, state and local level is starting to catch up with traditional wage based/over time policing budgets.
    The new federal mil toys have real federal budget support budgets and upgrade costs over the years that a city or state did not fully understand.
    Add in over time, pensions, fancy out sourced "private" sector training and the costs are getting more interesting every decade. How to cover the costs?
    Civil forfeiture in the United States https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/... [wikipedia.org] that no longer goes to the victim or into state, city funds but can flow in part into a department with not much oversight or controls on what the cash is spent on.
    The constant need to top up limited funds becomes the mission.
    • The problem is the tool set of advance electronics tracking, on going maintenance costs of "free" military hardware at a city, state and local level is starting to catch up with traditional wage based/over time policing budgets. The new federal mil toys have real federal budget support budgets and upgrade costs over the years that a city or state did not fully understand. Add in over time, pensions, fancy out sourced "private" sector training and the costs are getting more interesting every decade. How to cover the costs? Civil forfeiture in the United States https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/... [wikipedia.org] that no longer goes to the victim or into state, city funds but can flow in part into a department with not much oversight or controls on what the cash is spent on. The constant need to top up limited funds becomes the mission.

      Yet another force making sure that self-respecting people with integrity who really care about their community don't want to become police officers.

  • by gavron ( 1300111 ) on Wednesday December 02, 2015 @09:02PM (#51045927)

    Another way to make money is to make excessive bail requirements in possible
    collusion with bail bondsmen.

    TL;DR - bail should be set by the circumstances of the person's ability to pay and
    the nature of them being a flight risk, NOT the nature of the crime.

    Now the "I'm sorry but it got long" part:

    Bail from the eighth amendment to the Constitution of the United States:
    "Excessive bail shall not be required"

    Excessive is when it's greater than the amount necessary to bring the offender to trial. From Wikipidia:
    "In Stack v. Boyle, 342 U.S. 1 (1951), the Court found that a defendant's bail cannot be set higher than an amount that is reasonably likely to ensure the defendant's presence at the trial" https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/... [wikipedia.org]

    Judges are starting to agree: http://blog.simplejustice.us/2... [simplejustice.us]

    But some are still hungry for HUMONGOUS bail to avoid looking soft on crime when BAIL HAS NOTHING TO DO WITH THE CRIME.

    Man kills cop: 3 million dollars
    http://www.philly.com/philly/n... [philly.com]

    Man kills man: 2 million dollars
    http://www.bellinghamherald.co... [bellinghamherald.com]

    Cop kills man: 1.5 million:
    http://abc7chicago.com/news/ja... [abc7chicago.com]

    The US DoJ ought to take a long hard look at how our nation's Courts are handing out large bail
    requirements --unconstitutionally-- to make it look like they're "tough on crime."

    In fact, the people being granted bail are innocent until proven guilty, AND
    the amount of the bail is only supposed to ensure they show up for trial.

    We need a lot of reform in the criminal justice system. Hopefully the DoJ won't whitewash
    bail while they look at the other methods that "the justice system" screws the people.

    Full disclosure: I've never been arrested, offered bail, denied bail, nor am personally
    part of the legal / "justice" system.

    E

    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward

      In fact, the people being granted bail are innocent until proven guilty, AND
      the amount of the bail is only supposed to ensure they show up for trial.

      You're wrong.

      Bail is only supposed to prevent rich people from going to jail.

      Different crimes have different richness bars.

      The system is working as intended.

    • I would add that the bond system is used to justify higher bails as not being excessive. For example, 200,000 bail may be excessive, but oh, guess what, you can just pay 20,000 to the bail bondsman instead, so if you think 200,000 is excessive it isn't because you can just pay 20,000. What most people don't know until they go through something which requires excessive bails is that the bond payment is forfeited even if you show up to court. That person now has the option, if they cannot put up 200,000 and float it until the end of trial, to spend 20,000 as a non-refundable expense to have restricted freedoms restored while awaiting trial, or stay in jail.

      When I read the 8th amendment I do not see bonds mentioned as part of consideration for excessive bail, and the bond is essentially an excessive fee paid. Would it be the case that if bonds were done away with that the amount that makes a bail excessive would be much, much lower?

    • by c ( 8461 )

      TL;DR - bail should be set by the circumstances of the person's ability to pay and the nature of them being a flight risk, NOT the nature of the crime.

      The nature of the crime (and likely sentence) has strong influence on being a flight risk. Someone who might not run from a 6 month sentence isn't likely to stick around for a life sentence. A cop who shoots somebody on the job is less likely to be convicted than someone who shoots someone over a drug deal, and tends to get shorter sentences.

      Maybe I'm misunde

  • by RichMan ( 8097 ) on Wednesday December 02, 2015 @09:07PM (#51045967)

    It is not extortion if you are the law.

    Seems like the system is very very broken in the good ol' US of A.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday December 02, 2015 @09:29PM (#51046131)

    You Voted for them because they Promised to Cut Taxes But Not services.
    Guess What they are Politicians not Magicians.

    So stop complaining. You got what you asked for.

    • You Voted for them because they Promised to Cut Taxes But Not services.

      No I didn't! I didn't vote for them at all. Hell I've never even voted in an election that could have affected it in any way.

      You know, what with not being American and all.

  • Also look at speed limits set to low.

    Most of the IL toll-way was 55 (real in forced seems to be 70-75) now more parts of it are 60-70.

    Even in the 45 / 55 work zones no one does that and the cops lets you do 65-75 with them going faster then that.

  • by Jodka ( 520060 ) on Wednesday December 02, 2015 @09:45PM (#51046233)

    I posted this link a few days ago here on ./ but it's topical and worthy of a repost here:
    Cops Now Steal More from Citizens than do Actual Criminals [coyoteblog.com]

    And also on the "policing for profit" topic: Prisoners are now billed for their time in jail. [yahoo.com]. More here [mic.com] with some commentary here. [hotair.com]

  • There is so much nonsense in city and county governments that I think anyone taking reform seriously is at risk of being assassinated. Somehow America can not afford America. So we have all these entities capturing money any way they can. There is an area of study called poor law. trying to make reasonable laws to deal with the poor is an ongoing battle that has lasted for hundreds of years. Ant tiny bit of progress is rare.
  • by Solandri ( 704621 ) on Wednesday December 02, 2015 @11:28PM (#51046741)
    All the money from fines and forfeited criminal assets should go into a Federal escrow fund. Every year on April 15, the total amount in that fund gets divided by the number of people filing tax returns, and gets added as a credit to each and every tax return (2x for married couples filing jointly).

    Those fines and penalties are supposed to compensate for crimes against society. So it should be distributed back to society at large, not to police or government coffers.
  • by binarstu ( 720435 ) on Thursday December 03, 2015 @01:17AM (#51047165)

    John Oliver delivered an excellent treatment of this topic that is both informative and entertaining (and maddening). It's worth a watch [youtube.com].

    • My thought exactly as wel, the video referred gives a very good insight into the problem.

      This guy is "brillent" and despite the fact that he does not like to call himself a journalist, John Olvier really is one of the worlds most important ones, bringing attention to many serious and important issues.

  • Should be fine or jail time - hey, that rhymes!
  • If you say you can't pay the monetary charges, you get hit with community service. Suddenly I bet those fees vanish into thin air.

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