It’s not a secret that government’s want to seize as much from the producers as possible to bloat their power-hungry heads. But a new lawsuit is actually giving the details on just how the government uses the “justice” system to keep the poor in dire states of poverty.
The ACLU of North Carolina, the Southern Poverty Law Center, and the Southern Coalition for Social Justice have slapped the state of North Carolina with a federal lawsuit over the state’s practice of suspending drivers’ licenses over unpaid tickets.
According to Splinter News, in North Carolina, the DMV (Department of Motor Vehicles) is required by state law to automatically revoke a license after it receives notice from the court that a person has failed to pay their fines or penalties or associated costs. The lawsuit alleges that this state law violates the Fourteenth Amendment.
All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the state wherein they reside. No state shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any state deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.
The two plaintiffs in the case are 27-year old Seti Johnson and 31-year old Sharee Smoot. According to the lawsuit, Johnson is unemployed and can’t afford to pay off a traffic ticket as well as support his three children. He was able to save up $700 to get his license back last year, but before he was able to finally pay it off, he was hit with another ticket for $100 plus $208 in court costs. He covered the $100 ticket, but still owes $228 in court costs, and will lose his license sometime around the end of July. Although Johnson just got a new job, the lawsuit says, “he will have to either forego the job and figure out a different way to get his children to school, daycare, and the doctor’s office, or he will have to illegally drive.”
“I’d previously fallen behind on my rent and sacrificed the needs of my children just to keep my license,” Johnson said in a statement provided by the ACLU of North Carolina. “I cannot afford to do that again. This has to stop.”
Smoot, a single mother who works at a call center 45 minutes away from her home to help support her grandmother as well as her nine-year-old daughter said:
“I just want a fair chance to take care of my family. I can’t afford to pay the tickets right now, but that shouldn’t prevent me from having a driver’s license.”
However, this is a national problem not limited to North Carolina and stems from law enforcement looking to extort money for victimless crimes, and having the state in charge of driver’s licenses. In fact, a Washington Post report from earlier this month found that over 7 million people around the country may have had their licenses revoked for traffic debt-related reasons, although that number could be much higher. It’s just another way that both law enforcement and the justice department, as a whole, kneecaps the poor.
Extorting money from people for victimless crimes (most traffic violations are victimless) does not function to prevent any violent crime or crime with victims. The drug war does not help anyone, and the era of time in which the people of the US were most free, proves that this is the formula for prosperity. Even given the vastly different technology and capabilities of today, it would seem that this formula of freedom for prosperity would add up.
The problem is, we aren’t free and haven’t been for quite some time. And no matter who gets elected, we get more police, more violence, more “criminals”, and higher taxes.
But, it is time we began opening our eyes to the issue instead of repeating the “we’re free” lie. The best way to end poverty is not to throw money at it but to increase the rights and freedoms of everyone.
And in case you were wondering just how much all this newly militarized policing costs the average joe taxpayer, Statista's Niall McCarthy notes that approximately $6 billion of excess Department of Defense property has been transferred to U.S. law enforcement agencies since 1990. Under the 1033 Program, all sorts of items from laptops to assault rifles have been passed from the military to the police. These fall into two categories - controlled items (like drones or helicopters) and uncontrolled items (like office furniture and tools).
Even though police militarization has become increasingly controversial, particularly in the wake of Ferguson when mine-resistant vehicles and heavily armed officers appeared on the streets, the flow of weaponry has continued without interruption. A recent RAND analysis of the situation found that in fiscal years 2015 to 2017, the value of uncontrolled transfers came to $1.2 billion while controlled items had a value of $775 million.
You will find more infographics at Statista
RAND found that the current value of all excess Department of Defense items held by law enforcement agencies across the U.S. today stands at $1,888,559,339.
The infographic above takes a closer look at a selection of equipment from the analysis and how much it's currently worth. There are 849 mine-resistant vehicles in operation at U.S. police departments and they have a value of just under $583 million. Elsewhere on the list, 64,689 5.56 millimeter rifles have been transferred to law enforcement and they are worth $27.83 million while the grand total for all aircraft in the program comes to around $433 million.