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Zero-Tolerance Raids by Police in Santa Ana

July 03, 1988

Many years ago when I was in grade school, I was taught the difference between a free society and an oppressed society. One of the examples usually given was that in a free society, there is no cruel and unjust punishment.

But the textbook example is that you are innocent until proven guilty by a jury of your peers. However, the recent actions taken by the Santa Ana Police Department have twisted these fundamental principles.

Where else in the free world does the police department, without due process, confiscate and sell your property (in this case your car) because you made the mistake of purchasing $5 worth of marijuana. Several years ago, lawmakers adjusted marijuana possession laws to a more appropriate level. In California, possession of under one ounce of marijuana is still a misdemeanor, with an average fine of about $50.

Selling someone's car because they purchased small amounts of illegal drugs is not only a travesty of justice, but the victim then must raise the necessary funds to replace their vehicle.

It is very frightening to think that in a society where we cherish freedom and self-determination so much that law enforcement officials have become judge and jury.

DENNIS RICHARDSON

Santa Ana

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