If you are innocent of a crime, should you be punished as if guilty? Despite no arrest, no trial, no conviction?
If you say “Yes,” raise your hand.
I see no raised hands among my regular readers. But my readers don’t include the wicked Chicago officials who impounded the automobile of Spencer Byrd.
Byrd’s case is reported in a Reason article by C.J. Ciaramella. The author relates how Chicago extracts money by grabbing the vehicles of innocent people. The drug war and asset forfeiture laws help make it possible.
Byrd is a carpenter and auto mechanic who sometimes gives rides to clients stuck without their cars. One night, when he was stopped on the road for an allegedly broken turn signal, police discovered that a new client riding with him was carrying heroin. Byrd was questioned but quickly released. He was never charged with a crime.
But his car was impounded; it’s been impounded for years. This has hurt his business. For one thing, he has $3,500 worth of tools in the trunk.
Byrd persuaded a judge to order that his car be returned to him. But the city still wouldn’t release it unless Byrd paid $8,790 in fees and fines (later reduced to $2,000). He is still struggling to retrieve his car, within a labyrinth the injustices of which I’ve barely touched on.
May I suggest . . . ? If you do ever recover your Cadillac, Mr. Byrd, put pedal to the floor and get the heck out of Dodge.
I mean, Chicago.
This is Common Sense. I’m Paul Jacob.