What a week! Everybody at work and at home is sick. We had a week of jury trials. We were breaking in a new prosecutor—he tried and won his first case. There was an officer-involved shooting in Griffin. I had to attend a county commission meeting.
I tried to replace a kitchen faucet at home and broke a pipe. That was a hoot!
In the midst of all of that, I went to Atlanta for a three-day course in forfeiting assets of money launderers. It may not sound exciting to you, but it was just what I’ve been trying to find.
I’ve written before about my commitment to place greater emphasis on financial crimes. Unfortunately, at just the time when violent crime is down and financial crimes are rising, the General Assembly has decided that we can save money if fewer non-violent criminals go to prison.
We’ve got to punish those guys some way. So, we plan to take their stuff.
The teacher of this course made a good point. He said that law enforcement and criminals are keeping score differently. We think we win if we send criminals to jail. They think they win if they get rich. And they’re willing to go to prison for a short while if they can keep the profits from their crimes.
So, why don’t we beat them at their own game?
If a criminal gets money from an illegal activity and puts it in a bank account, he has laundered the money. And Georgia law permits us to seize the whole bank account. I can’t think of any reason why we shouldn’t do that in appropriate cases.
It’s not right for a criminal defendant to walk out of the courtroom with more money than anybody on the jury that convicted him.
It’s wrong for you to pay taxes and convicted felons to enjoy tax-free wealth.
If law-abiding citizens lose their cars because they can’t pay the note, criminals should lose theirs because they broke the law.
City governments are going bankrupt. Counties are laying off workers. The tax base has shrunk and they can’t provide the services citizens need.
Well, it’s time for us to force criminals to pitch in. Forfeited assets go to the government. Criminals can pay for things that tax money buys now.
Most importantly, when criminals look at the scoreboard, maybe it will be clear that we won. No matter how you keep score.