A new Illinois law will require convicted drug dealers to pay for the time officers spend investigating their crimes. The article I read says the law also applies to some other drug-related offenses, and obviously only those where the defendant is found guilty. The payment goes to the law enforcement agency that did the work.
It’s a great idea, in theory. Why make taxpayers pay for an investigation when the criminal can be fined instead? But I’m not convinced this is anything more than increased fines with a clever public relations spin.
Using fines to pay for officer time isn’t new. That’s what fines are for – to pay the expenses of crime prevention and public safety. Lawmakers also said they hope it will be an added deterrent. Are fines a good deterrent? Maybe for speeding tickets. If you’re selling drugs, I’m pretty sure prison time is the deterrent.
The amount of the increased fine is actually a set amount. From the quotes in the article, it makes it sound like each fine would be determined on a case-by-case basis, but there’s no way police officers would bill their time on every case. 8.75 hours spent on surveillance. 1.9 hours spent on arrest. 1.46 hours on paperwork. 2.875 hours cleaning up the scene. It’s just not practical. As far as I can tell, the reimbursement fine is predetermined. It’s not actually based on how much time an officer spends working a case.
This won't stop anyone from doing a crime of course, but hopefully it will plug some holes in the budget gaps because it's not as if the drug dealers are paying taxes on these profits.
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