I have mentioned before the menace of civil asset forfeitures, where police can seize the assets of people even before they are convicted of any crime and make it well nigh impossible for them to get it back even if they are completely innocent. This has become just another way for local jurisdictions to raise money to fund their operations, particularly their police departments. Kevin Drum discusses a new study that looks at which particular jurisdictions are more likely to indulge in this practice. The result should come as no surprise to those who have been following this issue.
Alex Tabarrok, Michael Makowsky, and Thomas Stratmann have a new paper out that will, unfortunately surprise no one. The subject is civil asset forfeitures, where police get to keep money any they find in (for example) your car even if there’s no evidence that it’s drug related and nobody is convicted of a crime. They just declare the money suspicious, and that’s that.
In some states, police departments get to keep the money they seize. These are the states the authors look at. Then they look at one other variable: whether the local government (city or county) is running a deficit. Guess what they find? More civil asset forfeitures! Are you shocked!
The more black (and Hispanic) an area is, the more likely it is that strapped local governments will turn to civil asset forfeitures to raise revenue. But the more white an area is, the less likely they are to increase the use of civil asset forfeitures.
The lesson here is simple: white boys have daddies and their daddies have lawyers. It’s best not to mess with them. Just stick with harassing the black kids who can’t really fight back and who nobody cares about anyway. That’s just smart policing, my friend.