The brain is an exotic learning machine, to put it mildly. It does not take orders well. You can tell it to remember the major players in the settling of Manhattan, stress how crucially important that is, and on the test a week later very little comes back. And yet you might remember nearly every play in the San Francisco Giants’ Game 7 World Series victory. Why? Because the brain doesn’t listen to what you say; it watches what you do. And thinking often about Madison Bumgarner pitching, talking about the game, arguing about it: These are mental actions, as well as subtle forms of testing knowledge.
New York Times article on how test-taking helps learning.
Civil forfeiture laws allow police to confiscate property suspected of being tied to criminal activity. They don't have to prove in court that the suspect has done anything wrong. They just have to suspect it. The suspect could go to court to get their stuff back. But because of the legal expenses involved, many let it go or settle.
Since police departments get to keep the assets they've forfeited, this has predictably turned into a cash grab.
The law isn't just used against known drugpins with millions of dollars in cash under mattresses. It's being used to take cars against people suspected of DUI and picking up prostitutes. A Philadelphia couple had their home seized because their teenage son is suspected of selling $40 worth of drugs from the home.
Not only does civil forfeiture mete out arbitrary punishments without due process, it also distorts incentives for police departments. Solving a difficult murder case pays nothing, while catching people looking for prostitutes can yield a fleet of cars in one evening.
Clearly a law that needs to go.
From the New York Times article:
The seminars offered police officers some useful tips on seizing property from suspected criminals. Don’t bother with jewelry (too hard to dispose of) and computers (“everybody’s got one already”), the experts counseled. Do go after flat screen TVs, cash and cars. Especially nice cars.
Author of Economics: The Remarkable Story of How the Economy Works