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Right Hooks

Feds Welcome Back Civil Asset Forfeiture

There's nothing just about this program run by the "Department of Justice."

Dan Gilmore · Mar. 30, 2016

Effective immediately, the Department of Justice announced that it will restart payouts to local law enforcement departments under the Equitable Sharing program. Last year, Congress passed budget legislation that sliced the funds in the Asset Forfeiture program — which funded the sharing program — by $1.2 billion. In response, DOJ deferred the payments through the program on Dec. 21, 2015, until now.

“The Department is grateful to our partners for standing by us on our federal law enforcement task forces while the deferral was in effect,” it said in a statement to departments involved in the program. “We understand this deferral has been difficult for many of you, as you depend on these resources for your critical law enforcement efforts to disrupt and dismantle criminal activity.”

But the cruel irony of this program is that much of the funding DOJ distributes doesn’t come from the cash law enforcement scoops up when officers take down criminals. Rather, civil asset forfeiture is the practice of seizing cash and other valuables from people that police suspect of being involved in a crime. That’s it. No due process. Police don’t even have to charge the person they took the money from with a crime. According to The Washington Post, police seized more than $5 billion through civil asset forfeiture in 2014. Meanwhile, criminals took $3.5 billion from the public through burglary.

According to Hot Air’s Taylor Millard, states have responded to this injustice by creating rules that restrict law enforcement’s ability to seize property without due process. But the federal government, with its Equitable Sharing program, is providing opportunity for police departments who want to pilfer their local community so that they can operate with a bigger budget. There’s nothing just about this program run by the “Department of Justice.”

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