Vice Squad
Tuesday, November 15, 2005
Punishment By Police, Not By Courts

The chief of police in Cincinnati wants unconvicted vice arrestees to be punished more severely. Right now the city tows the cars of folks arrested for drug or prostitution offenses, if the car is claimed to be involved in the commission of the offense. Then the arrestees are charged $200 for the towing service. The chief wants the fee increased to $500, to deter folks from coming downtown with the intent to engage in verboten vice. But hold it, increasing a fee for deterrence purposes? Doesn't that sound more like a fine than a fee? Surely the Cincinnati authorities wouldn't impose a fine on people prior to any conviction, people who are presumed to be innocent of any wrongdoing?

The chief's plan also calls for doubling the "fee" to $1000 if it is not paid within a week. Why not $1 million, chief? Don't we want to deter late payments by the non-convicted? I think you're going soft on us.

Vice Squad occasionally looks at various methods by which that pesky "due process" requirement can be avoided. One popular ploy is to post the photos of prostitution-related arrestees on the web. It looks like two communities mentioned earlier in Vice Squad for that tactic, Frederick, Maryland and Durham, North Carolina, have abandoned the effort.

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