Plans To Revive Civil Asset Forfeiture Fall Flat
Civil asset forfeiture is a highly controversial practice that has been used to generate billions in revenue for the state and to enable widespread abuses against property rights for individuals. It's a practice that allows law enforcement to confiscate your property if they simply believe the property has been involved in some crime.
They will be allowed to keep the property even though there might be no proof to support their claims that the property was involved in any crime. What they say goes and it's up to you to prove that the cash you had on wasn't connected to what crime they say it was, or your house, your car, your boat, and so on.
Police departments around the United States have been engaged in civil asset forfeiture for many years now and the funds have contributed to a variety of questionable items for numerous police departments.
Aside from helping local police departments acquire costly military-grade equipment, this unconstitutional practice has also helped the police to buy things like $600+ coffee makers, concert tickets, ski trips, Hawaii vacations, popcorn makers, gold-plated whistles, a $5 million helicopter in one instance, and more. One department even spent hundreds on a clown.
The majority of the funds that are confiscated under this practice are said to be coming from property owners who were never indicted for any related crime.
And so it's no wonder then that so many civil liberties advocates and legal experts etc have called this practice a corrupt "policing for profit" scheme and so many have fought strongly against it for quite some time now. Thanks to their efforts, a variety of states have passed their own rules trying to push back against civil asset forfeiture; rules that require a criminal conviction before property can be confiscated.
However, recently the DOJ announced that they were going to increase their civil asset forfeiture efforts around the country. The US AG Jeff Sessions indicated that he was in favor of civil asset forfeiture and sees it as being a “key tool” that's necessary for police to do their jobs. It's hard to see how this could be a key tool though seeing as it violates the basic foundations of due process. The DOJ recently issued a new policy that encouraged both local and state law enforcement officials to pass their civil asset forfeiture cases to federal prosecutors which is a process that's likely to bring less protections for the targeted individuals. And by doing this, those law enforcement officials can bypass the new rules that have been established by various jurisdictions to try and curb this controversial police practice.
Just last week, efforts to try and ramp up civil asset forfeiture seemed to fall flat after a bipartisan effort in Congress was successful in blocking Sessions' plan for a boost in asset confiscation.
The coalition voted last week to block a directive from the Justice Department that was seeking to encourage civil asset forfeiture seizures. They were able to do this by passing an amendment that had surprisingly received overwhelming support.
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