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Time to end the war on drugs

When police seize a suspect's assets they can take cars, houses and cash.

If only the justice system understood the draconian nature of drug laws, which include provisions to seize citizens' assets and property when they are arrested for drug violations.

Since the war on drugs began in 1980s, the government has cast a wide net as to who gets arrested for drug crimes. The net has swallowed up innocent individuals, addicts and kids who have turned to the drug trade for a quick buck.

When people are arrested on drug charges, their money and property can be seized and held as "evidence" even if their case never comes to trial. The seized assets remain with authorities long after a case concludes.

Many people who have every right to their property upon the resolution of their case cannot regain their assets because of the red tape involved in reclaiming it.

Lawyers charge a percentage fee to "help" people regain their assets, which only further depletes their funds. As a result, people can lose their cars, their savings, their jobs and their ability to survive in an economy that is already preying upon them.

That is why it is myopic to believe that Senate Bill 528, which merely sets a minimum of $300 for seizure along with proper notice, does not make sense ("Why are Md. lawmakers itching to fund drug dealers?" Jan. 3). Ending the war on drugs starts there.

Todd Oppenheim, Baltimore

The writer is an attorney in the Baltimore City Public Defender's Office and a candidate for Baltimore City circuit court judge.

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