Society and Culture

David’s novels wove creatively around topics of social and cultural relevance. This newsletter thread digs into some of those topics, beginning with a pivotal theme in Tomorrowville: civil forfeiture in the United States.

Civil forfeiture is a legal practice in the United States that allows law enforcement agencies to seize property and assets from individuals suspected of involvement in criminal activity, without necessarily even charging the individual with a crime. Critics argue that this practice is often abused, with law enforcement agencies using it as a way to unfairly target and enrich themselves at the expense of innocent individuals.

One of the main issues with civil forfeiture is that it is often carried out without due process. In many cases, individuals who have had their property seized through civil forfeiture are not given the opportunity to challenge the seizure in court, making it difficult for them to get their property back. Additionally, the burden of proof in civil forfeiture cases is often lower than in criminal cases, meaning that law enforcement agencies can seize property without having to provide as much evidence of wrongdoing.

Another problem with civil forfeiture is that it can create a financial incentive for law enforcement agencies to engage in the practice. In many cases, the proceeds from seized property are used to fund law enforcement agencies, creating a situation where the agencies have a vested interest in seizing as much property as possible. This can lead to abuses of the system, with law enforcement agencies targeting individuals who may not have actually been involved in criminal activity, simply to seize their property and enrich the agency. David was once, a number of years ago, in a coffee shop in Virginia (I think it was Virginia) and heard some people who appeared to be with the DEA discussing individuals whom they suspected of being in the drug trade and strategizing how to use the asset seizure laws to confiscate–and later purchase–cars belonging to those individuals.

Overall, the current state of civil forfeiture in the United States is deeply concerning. While it may have been intended as a way to combat serious criminal activity, it has often been abused and used as a way to unfairly target and enrich law enforcement agencies. This is a clear violation of the rights of individuals.

If you’ve read Tomorrowville, you know that David amusingly carried the practice to its logical–and inevitable–extreme.

Subsequent posts here in this blog will examine concrete examples of the practice of civil forfeiture. I look forward to hearing your thoughts and understanding your experience.

1 thought on “Society and Culture”

Leave a Comment