S2E20: USA Today bombshell and la teachers strike

Today show we continue where we left off, talking 2020 candidates for President on the democratic side.

But I want to begin with a remarkable article in today’s USA Today. The article, entitled “Taken”, is an in depth report on a controversial legal procedure in which police take assets, usually money, from citizens and refuse to give it back.

The story compliments our conversation on Wednesday on criminal justice reform.

A case that made it all the way to the Supreme Court late last year called Timbs vs Indiana, brought together two unlikely justices conservative Gorsuch and liberal Sotomayor.

The plaintiff in the case, Tyson Timbs, is suing the state of Indiana for the return of his vehicle. The vehicle was seized when Timbs was charged with selling heroin to undercover cops.

The penalty for such a crime is $10, 000. Mr. Timbs vehicle is valued at four times that.

But according to the law, civil asset forfeitures allow the police to take the vehicle, give some of the proceeds to the state and pocket the rest.

This is not something exclusive to Indiana. In the USA Today story South Carolina makes a practice of doing this as well:

When a man barged into Isiah Kinloch’s apartment and broke a bottle over his head, the North Charleston resident called 911.

After cops arrived on that day in 2015, they searched the injured man’s home and found an ounce of marijuana.
So they took $1,800 in cash from his apartment and kept it.

When Eamon Cools-Lartigue was driving on Interstate 85 in Spartanburg County, deputies stopped him for speeding.

The Atlanta businessman wasn’t criminally charged in the April 2016 incident. Deputies discovered $29,000 in his car, though, and decided to take it.

When Brandy Cooke dropped her friend off at a Myrtle Beach sports bar as a favor, drug enforcement agents swarmed her in the parking lot and found $4,670 in the car. 

Her friend was wanted in a drug distribution case, but Cooke wasn’t involved. She had no drugs and was never charged in the 2014 bust.

Agents seized her money anyway.

She worked as a waitress and carried cash because she didn’t have a checking account. She spent more than a year trying to get her money back.

The Greenville News and Anderson Independent Mail examined these cases and every other court case involving civil asset forfeiture in South Carolina from 2014 to 2016.

Our examination was aimed at understanding this little-discussed, potentially life-changing power that state law holds over citizens — the ability of officers to seize property from people, even if they aren’t charged with a crime.

The resulting investigation became TAKEN, a South Carolina-wide journalism project with an exclusive database and in-depth reporting.

It’s the first time a comprehensive forfeiture investigation like this has been done for an entire U.S. state, according to experts.

The article is a must read for anyone who cares about justice and reform of this clearly unjust system.