Lazy Journalism

March 24, 2017
By

Haven’t done one of these in a while. Here’s a puff piece by Frank Lewis in the Portsmouth (Ohio) Daily Times: Forfeiture – an important tool. It’s essentially a promo for the U.S. Attorney’s office.

U.S. Attorney Benjamin C. Glassman has announced the creation of a District forfeiture unit tasked with ensuring the District is as successful as possible at seizing ill-gotten gains. […]

Portsmouth Police Chief Robert Ware agrees.

“Asset forfeiture has proven to be a valuable tool in disrupting criminal enterprises’ ability to continue to operate post conviction,” Ware said. “When done properly, civil and criminal asset forfeiture can provide for the dismantling of a criminal network instead of replacing one individual with the next individual to continue to operate the enterprise. This is especially true in the case of organized drug trafficking rings.” […]

Of course, nowhere in the article does it even consider discussing who gets the money from the forfeitures, or whether, in the case of civil forfeitures, the owner of the property has to actually have committed a crime to lose their property.

Notice the quote mentions “post conviction,” and yet much forfeiture doesn’t require any conviction at all.

Of course, Benjamin Gassman and Robert Ware like the program. If I had a program where I could take assets from private individuals and use them to increase my budget, I’d be pretty thrilled with it.

A real journalist would ask them if they would still be happy with the program if forfeiture required a conviction and all proceeds went to the general fund.

I also love this bit:

For example, in fiscal year 2016, the United States Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Ohio forfeited assets valued in excess of $9 million.

Um, no. Citizens forfeited assets, not the U.S. Attorney’s Office. Of course, any discussion of citizens who actually forfeited assets are noticeably missing from this article.

In case Frank Lewis is looking for the correct word, The U.S. Attorney’s Office seized assets.

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Pete Guither is the editor of drugwarrant.com

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