Justice, Texas Style

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Tenaha, TX has apparently been using the state’s forfeiture law to fleece—guess who? Mostly blacks and Latinos.

From CNN:

Authorities who seized $8,500 and assorted jewelry from a Tennessee man after a traffic stop in east Texas have agreed to return the property after his case drew attention from CNN.

Roderick Daniels said police in Tenaha, Texas, took the money in October 2007 after they stopped him for doing 37 mph in a 35-mph zone. He said police threatened him with money-laundering charges and promised not to prosecute if he signed over the cash, which Daniels said was to buy a new car.

Texas law allows police to confiscate drug money and other personal property they think is used in the commission of a crime. If no charges are filed or the person is acquitted, the property has to be returned.

…authorities in Tenaha, about 180 miles east of Dallas, seized $3 million from 2006 to 2008. In about 150 cases, virtually all involving African-American or Latino motorists, the seizures were improper, he said.

Reads like a bad episode of Hee Haw.

I guess I won’t hold my breath until either the cops or prosecutors who cooked up this racist scam and abuse of authority face the kind of criminal penalties they so casually aimed at others.

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We didn't know what to expect when we told you we needed to raise $400,000 before our fiscal year closed on June 30, and we're thrilled to report that our incredible community of readers contributed some $415,000 to help us keep charging as hard as we can during this crazy year.

You just sent an incredible message: that quality journalism doesn't have to answer to advertisers, billionaires, or hedge funds; that newsrooms can eke out an existence thanks primarily to the generosity of its readers. That's so powerful. Especially during what's been called a "media extinction event" when those looking to make a profit from the news pull back, the Mother Jones community steps in.

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