It's just the coffee talking...
I know a lot of people find themselves falling down a deep rabbit hole when they decide to look up one tiny, little bitty thing online.
This morning I was reading an exchange between two people online on a random news story.
This led me to wonder if what one of them said was true about where revenue from traffic tickets goes to and how it's divided.
This led to... well, falling down that proverbial rabbit hole.
Honestly, it got scary.
Here is where I started: a simple question, with about a billion returns from the internet search but for example, here is one of them.
".... Here’s how a typical speeding ticket (in this case a ticket from Indiana that we paid though our Traffic Justice Program) is divvied up:
State Courts: $49.00
County Courts: $18.90
City Courts: $2.10
Law Enforcement Fee: $4.00
Jury Fee: $2.00
Highway Work Zone: $0.50 (??)
Auto Record Keeping Fee: $7.00
Document Storage Fee: $2.00
Infractional Judgments: $99.50 The fine!
Public Defense Administration Fee: $3.00
Judicial Insurance Adjustment: $1.00
Judicial Salaries Fee: $18.00: Do you think murderers and rapists pay this fee too?
DNA Sample Processing Fee: $2.00 Very common service for traffic tickets.
Court Administration Fee: $5.00
Total Cost Of Ticket: $214.00
This should help explain why average traffic ticket recipients start out with two strikes against them when they enter traffic court. The court system just can’t afford to offer real justice. If it did it would drown in its own workload and go broke in the process."
Some of my internet search returns were leading me to news articles that in a 'round about' way had to do with my topic, but they were actually about speed traps, illegal confiscation, and people all over the country that were pulled over for something as simple as backing out of a driveway 'improperly' and had thousands of dollars taken from them that have never, ever been returned to them; even when they were never charged with a crime and the money was found to be for their business deposit to the bank, to buy a vehicle they were literally on their way to buy, etc.
"Civil forfeiture in the United States, also called civil asset forfeiture or civil judicial forfeiture or occasionally civil seizure, is a legal process in which law enforcement officers take assets from persons suspected of involvement with crime or illegal activity without necessarily charging the owners with wrongdoing.
Civil forfeiture involves a dispute between law enforcement and property such as a pile of cash or a house or a boat, such that the thing is suspected of being involved in a crime. To get back the seized property, owners must prove it was not involved in criminal activity."
But so much of the time the system makes it impossible to wade through for the falsely accused and they never get their money back.
So... as I mentioned, this is a long and deep rabbit hole and it has so many other tunnels attached to it that you (I) can end up with 35 different browser windows open with different yet related topics. It's a very interesting read - and although the law supposedly changed in 2015 (?) to make it harder for law enforcement to illegally confiscate the assets (cash) that an innocent driver has on them or in their car; it obviously hasn't been implemented as it should because it's still happening.
If this is a topic of interest you can start with a couple random news articles NPR and FOX to get you started but beware, you better have a hot cup of coffee and a couple hours in front of you because this topic gets deep....
- Former County Sheriff convicted of felony theft for taking $120,000 in cash seized during a 2006 traffic stop.
"Cops can always find an excuse to stop you.
On the morning of April 15, 2013, Trooper Justin Simmons, who is part of an "interdiction team" that looks for contraband and money to seize, pulled over William Davis and John Newmerzhycky, who were traveling west on Interstate 80 in a rental car, a red Nissan Altima. Simmons later said he had received a vague tip from "an Illinois law enforcement officer" to be on the lookout for a red car, but he did not know why. Obviously that did not rise to the level of reasonable suspicion, which Simmons needed to stop the car. So instead he claimed that he pulled Davis and Newmerzhycky over because Newmerzhycky, who was driving, failed to signal as he passed a black SUV. But as can be seen in the video recorded by Simmons' dashcam (starting around the 00:28 mark), Newmerzhycky did signal. In the absence of such contrary evidence, cops are free to invent minor traffic infractions to justify a stop they want to conduct for other reasons. Although it does not condone such prevarication, the Supreme Court has said any valid legal reason makes a stop constitutional, even if it's a pretext for a more ambitious investigation."
This post is so disjointed and long already... I know... but there are just SO MANY SUB TOPICS TO THIS TOPIC. And it's just one after another after another that are so interesting yet terrifying because it can happen to anyone - anywhere. Big cities like Washington, DC or dinky little towns like this town in the middle of nowhereville Alabama with a population of about 500 people.
This story sucked me in because during an interview with the then-police chief, he admitted they MADE UP THE ENTIRE TOWN COURT SYSTEM IN ORDER TO MAKE MONEY.
I certainly hope this innocent man got (gets?) his money back.
".... the police department, created in 2009, was nearing bankruptcy due to a lack of ticket revenue, thus, together with city council, it planned a scheme to rip-off the residents and fill its coffers. Mayor J.B. Jackson admitted to AL.com:
“We didn’t have much so Hawsey [police chief] come to me and said ‘There is a lot of crime in this town and a lot of drugs coming through this town’. So he said why don’t we set up a court system to get some money coming in. We hired our own DA and own judge. The revenues started to grow and we built out the police department.”
After the town came to know of the program, its mayor, a municipal court judge, a prosecutor and the police chief were ousted. The 550-people town currently has three full time and one part-time police officers, including a couple of dispatchers."
"Just moments after Trey Crozier backed his silver 2002 Mercury Sable onto a small road in Castleberry, a wisp of a town in south Alabama, he found himself face-to-face with two police officers wearing military-style flak jackets, and camouflaged trousers tucked into dark assault boots.
The officers opened the doors of Crozier's vehicle and forced him and his passenger out on to the street so the vehicle could be searched. Despite the dramatic attire of the Castleberry Police Force, it was not a military operation. Crozier was being stopped for improperly backing out of a driveway.
But what was supposed to be a standard driving infraction turned into an early Halloween nightmare for Crozier, on Oct. 26, 2016. His car was towed and the Castleberry Police Department confiscated $1,750 from him.
He was caught in one of the worst speed traps in Alabama.
And he was never charged with a crime. And according to the lawsuit and court records, he was never even charged with a traffic offense."
I have just spent about an hour on this post - just typing as I was 'talking' over coffee... but my coffee gone, my head is swimming with the 5 other sub-topics that grow off this one and there just isn't any way for me to just focus on one topic when it comes to this.
With my head spinning with an overload of information (and perhaps it's some of the caffeine of the last 4 or 5 cups of strong, hot, morning coffee...) I need to just stop typing and stop READING MORE ARTICLES ONLINE, and go brew another cup.
.... it's just the coffee talking again.