The Oklahoma Highway Patrol started using them last month
If you’re a motorist in Oklahoma, the police have a new tool in their arsenal to get into your pocketbook, ERAD (Electronic Recovery and Access to Data) machines. These diabolical devices allow the police to drain people’s prepaid bank cards during traffic stops and it’s completely legal. They’re protected under the “civil forfeiture” laws that let police seize funds if it’s believed they’re tied to drug crime.
ERAD devices work just like any other payment terminal at a grocery store or bank. All the police have to do is swipe your card and, don’t worry, there’s no need to provide your PIN number. The device tells the police how much money is loaded onto your card and allows them to seize as much as they like. No trial. No conviction. No warrant. What ever happened to innocent until proven guilty?
For those that have their money seized by the police, getting the funds back is an expensive and lengthy process even if it wasn’t used in criminal activity. And like most shady criminal justice practices, somebody is making a buck off it. ERAD takes 7.7 percent of all assets seized as a commission. One wonders what strings they pulled to wet their beaks on state-seized assets?
Matt Miller, senior attorney at the Institute for Justice, sys that ERAD readers may aid in law enforcement abuses of civil forfeiture. “You are giving police access to people’s bank accounts, because there are a lot of people who no longer have a traditional bank account,” Miller told The Huffington Post. “You have a police officer on the side of the road with this scanner who can get total access to this person’s account and potentially seize it and then make them go to court and prove that it’s not connected with criminal activity, and in the meantime their funds are tied up by this reader.”
The Oklahoma Highway Patrol is under scrutiny for using these devices without the consent of the state’s lawmakers, so State Senator Kyle Loveless has vowed to introduce a bill that’ll stop their use. “There’s not a procedure in place. There’s not policy in place. They don’t have to report it to us if they had used it,” he told The Huffington Post. “This is another slap in the face of Oklahomans.”