Is Your Local PD Strapped for Cash? No Problem! Just Seize It From Black Kids.

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Alex Tabarrok, Michael Makowsky, and Thomas Stratmann have a new paper out that will, unfortunately surprise no one. The subject is civil asset forfeitures, where police get to keep money any they find in (for example) your car even if there’s no evidence that it’s drug related and nobody is convicted of a crime. They just declare the money suspicious, and that’s that.

In some states, police departments get to keep the money they seize. These are the states the authors look at. Then they look at one other variable: whether the local government (city or county) is running a deficit. Guess what they find? More civil asset forfeitures! Are you shocked!

There are no increases in arrests for murder or assault or burglary. Just for crimes where the police get to keep the money. But there’s one more thing. A picture is worth a thousand words, so check this out:

The more black (and Hispanic) an area is, the more likely it is that strapped local governments will turn to civil asset forfeitures to raise revenue. But the more white an area is, the less likely they are to increase the use of civil asset forfeitures.

The lesson here is simple: white boys have daddies and their daddies have lawyers. It’s best not to mess with them. Just stick with harassing the black kids who can’t really fight back and who nobody cares about anyway. That’s just smart policing, my friend.

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FACT:

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Today, reader support makes up about two-thirds of our budget, allows us to dig deep on stories that matter, and lets us keep our reporting free for everyone. If you value what you get from Mother Jones, please join us with a tax-deductible donation today so we can keep on doing the type of journalism 2020 demands.

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