Forfeiture Reborn? Police Partner for Plunder
Forfeiture Reborn? Police Partner for Plunder by
TDC Note – Attorney General Jeff Sessions is a big fan of asset forfeiture – another way of saying legalized theft.
Whether Jefferson Beauregard Sessions of Alabama remains as U.S. attorney general is a continuing mystery (at least as of this writing). But on July 17, Sessions did indeed do something that calls into question his judgment and basic fairness.
As Trump administration policy, he embraced a legal doctrine that sanctions official police plunder of private property, known as “civil forfeiture.”
At a time when forfeiture is under serious attack by politicians and even U.S. Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, who recently questioned its constitutionality, Sessions’ decision prompted a rare bipartisan outcry. In a 2015 Cato Institute/YouGov survey of 2,000 Americans, 84% opposed civil asset forfeiture. In a poll taken just after Sessions’ announcement, 59% opposed. The announcement is in sharp contrast to several states, led by both Republicans and Democrats, which attempted to limit the use of civil forfeiture.
And you too could be a target ripe for civil forfeiture!
Forfeiture is one of the most serious assaults on what remains of private property rights in America today.
Between 1985 and 1993, the U.S. Department of Justice alone seized assets worth $3.2 billion. State and local police grabbed billions more. And the looting goes on: U.S. law enforcement has seized over $1 billion annually since 2009.
This centuries-old English common law doctrine has allowed American police to confiscate billions of dollars’ worth of private property from hundreds of thousands of innocent citizens. In 85% of cases, property is taken even though the owner is never charged with a crime. What’s worse, there is a built-in conflict of interest: Police agencies profit because they keep seized funds and property to use as they please, a rich incentive to push forfeiture.
Financing the Failed War on Drugs
Forfeiture was one of the politicians’ opening “do something” salvos in the failed “war on drugs.”