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Report

A proposal to end regressive taxation through law enforcement

The PROBLEM

Many jurisdictions in the United States, in response to fiscal strains, have found relief in the revenue generated by traffic tickets, fines, adjudication fees, and asset forfeiture. The reconfiguration of law enforcement as a revenue-generating mechanism has disproportionately come at the expense of the politically and economically vulnerable, particularly underrepresented minorities, resulting in a biased and regressive system of taxation.

THE PROPOSAL

Makowsky proposes to eliminate the police retention of seized property to sever the link between revenues and expenditures and bring law enforcement activities in closer alignment with public objectives. This would take place through a) ending the retention of federal equitable sharing revenues by law enforcement agencies; b) eliminating the retention of proceeds from forfeited property by the local arresting agency; and c) redistributing criminal justice revenues as per capita municipal block grants. In addition, Makowsky proposes that law enforcement revenue be rebated to individuals in the communities currently suffering the heaviest burden of crime, reestablishing public trust in police officers to serve and protect their communities.

Author

Michael Makowsky

Associate Professor of Economics - John E. Walker Department of Economics, Clemson University

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