Tuesday, 11 June 2013

Bad incentives

Radio NZ this morning reported that Justice Minister Judith Collins is allocating $8.3m seized under the Proceeds of Crime legislation to drug enforcement activities and to addiction treatment.

It could be worse. In the US, individual police departments seizing assets get to keep a cut. Where police are rational and maximising, this encourages departments to shift to activities that can be profit centres rather than focus on crime-reduction activities that would yield only social benefits to the community.*

Here's Radley Balko with John Stossel on asset forfeiture. How bad can it get? Balko's been documenting cases where police departments have been demanding that bail money be paid in cash, then seize the cash from the family of an arrested person. Here's more and more. And more.

The NZ police seem to be good and honest people, but they're human too. Why make it be in their interest to do bad things?

Civil asset forfeiture is a thoroughly inside-the-asylum policy. We should know better. If Collins is determined to run civil asset forfeiture, it has to be set up such that there's zero link between the amount seized and police budgets.

* And don't get cute arguing that if the subsidy winds up being large enough, the police can wind up doing more of both. Hit the Balko links. American police are committing crimes so that they can seize assets. Here's the Institute for Justice:

1 comment:

  1. Eric says :
    " It could be worse. In the US, individual police departments seizing assets get to keep a cut"

    Well I am sorry to tell you Eric , NZ cops have caught up. 'operation lime' was a nasty piece of work and designed to repatriate money and property.

    I have evidence that the law takes and sells gear. Its anger making, and they destroy families. NZ cops very bad macho Eric,

    keep away from that crap on Jim Moira Eric , do not waste intellect on an afternoon show