Tippecanoe County Prosecutor Pat Harrington has been engaging in a controversial practice, commonly referred to as “Policing for Profit.” The repugnant practices of Civil Asset Forfeiture are receiving national attention after a federal judge recently issued a ruling in an Indiana case, striking down practices that violate the Constitution. This has prompted Indiana lawmakers to work on rewriting associated state laws.
The Indianapolis Star reported, “Last November, Jeff Cardella, a professor at Indiana University’s Robert H. McKinney School of Law, filed the federal class-action lawsuit, on behalf of Leroy Washington, whose vehicle was taken by police in September. Washington was arrested and charged with resisting law enforcement, dealing in marijuana and obstruction of justice…Plaintiffs in the class-action lawsuit have argued that Indiana law allows police to seize property from alleged drug dealers and others, regardless of their guilt or innocence, and therefore violates criminal defendants’ constitutional right to due process.”
According to the Institute for Justice civil forfeiture is “one of the most serious assaults on private-property rights in the nation.”
“Civil forfeiture treats property owners worse than criminals because it empowers police and prosecutors to take your belongings without ever charging you with a crime, much less convicting you of one. To make matters worse, law enforcement often gains financially from civil forfeiture. Not only do police and prosecutors decide what property to seize, they get to keep the property for their own use or profit from its sale. As a result, police and prosecutors have a powerful incentive to seize as much property as they can,” declared a statement via the organization’s website.
In addition, current law in Indiana requires that proceeds can only be used to cover the cause of an action and that remainder funds should go to the Common School Fund; however, many greedy prosecutors have neglected to share the ill-gotten gain, including Tippecanoe County Prosecutor Pat Harrington.
Indianapolis attorney-blogger Paul Ogden called the wayward prosecutors out in a February 19, 2014 blogpost that mentioned Harrington by name.
“For far too long, police and prosecutors in Indianapolis have been keeping 100 percent of forfeiture proceeds for themselves. The Constitution couldn’t be clearer–‘all forfeitures’ belong to the schools–yet the Indiana school fund hasn’t seen a penny of forfeiture money from Indiana’s capital since before some current students were even born. Meanwhile, police and prosecutors are siphoning off millions of dollars in civil forfeiture proceeds, violating both the Indiana Constitution and the state’s Civil Forfeiture Statute and fueling an increasingly aggressive forfeiture machine.”
If Pat Harrington is confused as to why citizens are upset with him, he need look no further than this issue. It tops a growing list of grievances.