Saturday, May 26, 2007



Asset forfeiture: 137,000 reasons why its unnecessary

An investigation into methamphetamine dealing in Porirua has resulted in the police seizing $137,000 cash and $160,000 of drugs (160g of P - an absolute shitload of the stuff). This was done with existing powers, without needing to stack the deck by lowering the standards of evidence or reversing the burden of proof. All the police had to do was a bit of work for a change.

So, why do we need the Criminal Proceeds (Recovery) Bill again? So the police can engage in lazy policing rather than doing their fucking jobs properly?

13 comments:

What would you do about organised crime then? More of the same, with our hopelessly inefficient criminal justice system? A system that continues to waste money pointlessly 'fighting drugs', with a prison system that is quite literally bursting at the seams. Do you want more in prison, as this scheme would result in less?

And what is wrong with a system that seeks to make a crime an inefficient undertaking? If crime A stands to make X $500K, and crime A risks putting X in prison for (a total serve of) 3 years, then it is good economics for X to carry out the crime.

So you have two choices, increase sentencing massively, with all the the associated problems, or, reduce the potential take and the likelihood of it being taken away.

Further, what is with the staunch defence of property rights anyway? as that is the only liberty that is at stake.

Our justice system needs wholesale change, and this could be a positive tool if properly used.

Posted by Anonymous : 5/26/2007 11:45:00 AM

Anon: The police already have the ability to seize the proceeds of crime and make criminal acivity an inefficient business...the problem is that this bill proposes to remove the presumption of innocence and the requirement to prove guilt beyond reasonable doubt that is the core of our justice system. That maybe okay in Zimbabwe but it is not okay here.

There is a real possibility that people will have their assets seized despite not being convicted of any crime because this is an easier route for the police to follow.

It is a system that is wide open to abuse and the overseas experience is that it leads to police corruption this will especially be the case if it becomes linked to performance or revenue targets, which it almost certainly will be.

The increase in prison numbers is a direct result of the simplistic solutions to crime proposed by whingers on the right which spineless labour politicians have bought into wholesale. Its part of a sordid bidding war to win the grumpy vote that has completely failed to make the public any safer.

There are problems with our justice system but this is not the solution to them.

Meanwhile this policy along with today's suggestion that they may introduce antisocial behaviour orders is yet another reasons why I won't be crying into my chardonnay when labour gets completely dicked at the polls next year.

Posted by Kiwisan : 5/26/2007 12:59:00 PM

Hi Kiwisan,

I totally agree with your sentiments re prison numbers and the ASBO's.

However, I see nothing wrong with lowering thresholds for proof when a person's liberty is -not- at stake. It is both economically sensible as well as fair (the same standard is used in the civil court when you get sued for property, do you advocate raising that bar for the protection of property?).

If used properly, and as a tool for making crime inefficient, then it is a cost effective and rational response to the problems associated with organised crime. I (like you) know full well that the current system is a failure. I am sure you would also agree that organised crime is a serious problem. The current proceeds of crime legislation does not work, both in terms of the numbers in prison (it naturally runs alongside actual charges), and in making crime ineffective.

I am sure you realise that I can sue you for your property with civil standards of proof right now, all I need to do is make out a cause of action and I can get your stuff. All this law does is provide the Police with that power to civilly sue with a criminal cause of action in order to take property of people they can prove on balance to have offended, and they property taken must be proved on balance to be a product of that offending. As long as it is used instead of criminal charges (as opposed to alongside), then it is an improvement on what we have at present. And at present, certain crimes are economically sensible risks, and that is a problem.

I do not think the proposal is perfect, but I do think it is better than what we have, and I do not see many other ideas gaining traction.



cheers

Posted by Anonymous : 5/26/2007 01:24:00 PM

One more thing, you state "There is a real possibility that people will have their assets seized despite not being convicted of any crime because this is an easier route for the police to follow"

That is the whole idea. Efficiency, and less use of the cumbersome, overcrowded, ineffective, and failing justice system.

My concern is that it would not be used instead of the criminal sanction.

Deal with organised crime and drug offending civilly (this measure being just one change out of many needed, as opposed to the magic bullet), and then pump the hundreds of millions saved into reducing domestic and sexual violence.

Posted by Anonymous : 5/26/2007 01:38:00 PM

If you have drug prohibition you'll always have a thriving black market. The only way to stop it is to legalise drugs.

How can we legalise "P" when it turns people into psychopaths? Firstly, it doesn't - it's used by violent crims as an excuse for their offending, but it isn't the real reason.

Secondly the only reason we have a meth problem in NZ is that it's one of the few drugs you can make from easily obtainable ingredients. Since our border controls are more effective that less remote places, drugs that require specialist imported ingredients are very expensive. So people use a rather nasty drug instead.

If drugs were legal, then meth would be very much a minority taste (as it is in the UK).

Posted by Rich : 5/26/2007 03:22:00 PM

Rich, I could not agree more, but it is not sellable to the public.

Criminal organisations do not just profit from drug prohibition though.

Posted by Anonymous : 5/26/2007 03:29:00 PM

Rich,

"Firstly, it doesn't - it's used by violent crims as an excuse for their offending, but it isn't the real reason."

soon you'll be telling be "guns don't kill people people kill poeple".

GNZ

Posted by Anonymous : 5/26/2007 03:34:00 PM

Anon: The phrase "when used properly" is a key part of the debate. I have no confidence that it will be not to mention that it will result in different standards of justice for different people charged with the same crime.

If the justice system is clogged up and inefficient the solution is to fix it or resource it properly not turn it into an injustice system.

Note also that the sort of crimes that the courts are clogged up with are largely traffic and property offences.

Posted by Kiwisan : 5/26/2007 07:12:00 PM

kiwisan, you make three points

1. "I have no confidence that it will be (used properly)". That is not reason to avoid implimenting what is potentially a sound crime fighting tool. We just need to do what is necessary to ensure it is used properly, and get rid of it if that proves impossible (and I doubt it would be impossible).


2. "If the justice system is clogged up and inefficient the solution is to fix it or resource it properly not turn it into an injustice system". Firstly, resource it properly???? Are you kidding, the system is a giant swelling mess, the last thing we need to do is pour more money on it for more of the same. I'm sorry but that is lunacy. And as for 'fix it', how exactly? We have one measure being proposed that is a reasonably significant change (away from criminal lynchings), and it is attacked, not from the normal string em up nutters, but by respected liberal commentators! Go figure.


3. "Note also that the sort of crimes that the courts are clogged up with are largely traffic and property offences." Meth is currently the clog. So much so that the High Courts are making noise about having such charges heard in the District Courts.

The only other point you make is " it will result in different standards of justice for different people charged with the same crime", and I don't understand you in this context? The point being that this measure should be used instead of charging people, for if you were to charge them then you can use the current regime to retrieve the proceeds. So in what context will people who are "charged with the same crime" get different punishments?

Posted by Anonymous : 5/26/2007 08:51:00 PM

I'm having trouble beleiving that 160 grammes is an absolute shitload of anything?
Did you omit a "k" ?

Posted by FletcherB : 5/28/2007 01:20:00 PM

Fletcherb: Nope. That should be apparent by the amount of money involved.

Posted by Idiot/Savant : 5/28/2007 01:50:00 PM

Is it really $1000 a gram? You can get actual real coke for a lot less that that in the UK.

Allegedly.

Posted by Rich : 5/28/2007 05:10:00 PM

Rich: Roughly, though the retail price obviously varies with supply and demand. Wholesale, the dealers whose phone calls I had the joy of listening to for a month a couple of years back were buying it for between $6000 and $12000 an ounce.

Posted by Idiot/Savant : 5/28/2007 05:24:00 PM