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Since You Asked

Forfeiture isn't like on TV On last week's episode of The Shield, there was discussion of a property-forfeiture program. Police would seize and sell homes and vehicles paid for or used in the manufacture or distribution of drugs. A third of the proceeds would go to police, a third to the district attorney and the last third toward community-improvement projects.

Does the Medford Police Department or Jackson County Sheriff's Department have a program like this? Or are these forfeiture programs just a bunch of Hollywood make-believe?

' Derek P., Medford

While not make-believe, Oregon forfeiture programs don't mirror Hollywood portrayals.

It's not like it is on TV ... finding suitcases of money, said Lt. Dewey Patten, commander of the Jackson County Narcotics Enforcement Team.

JACNET investigates about 30 to 40 drug cases every year that involve some type of forfeiture ' usually cash, Patten said. The agency pursues virtually no forfeitures of vehicles or real estate because the lengthy process and legal entanglements don't justify the monetary return, Patten said. JACNET anticipates receiving &

36;30,000 in forfeitures for this fiscal year, the lieutenant said.

— When a forfeiture is made, 40 percent of the proceeds pay for drug treatment through Jackson County Health and Human Services. The arresting agency recoups 38 percent. Ten percent goes to the state's general fund, 7 percent to a meth lab cleanup fund and — percent to an asset forfeiture oversight committee, Patten said. The county charges 2 percent to manage the funds.

But the process will likely change again thanks to pending legislation, the anticipated release of a Supreme Court decision and the recent expiration of a voter-passed law that established current forfeiture procedures.

Send questions to Since You Asked, Mail Tribune Newsroom, P.O. Box 1108, Medford, OR 97501 or by e-mail to Since You Asked"youasked@mailtribune.com.