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Tag: asset forfeiture

Federal Incentives for Seizing Assets Encourages ‘Policing for Profit’

frozen-cash2By Editorial Board
Sentinel & Enterprise

Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky and Rep. Tim Walberg of Michigan have introduced legislation to reform civil asset forfeiture, a practice by which law enforcement agencies seize the property and assets of individuals with minimal due process.

The practice has encouraged “policing for profit,” distorting the mission of police agencies toward revenue generation to the detriment of the property rights of Americans. Paul’s and Walberg’s bill should unite those concerned with upholding constitutional rights and justice more broadly.

The FAIR (Fifth Amendment Integrity Restoration) Act, previously introduced by Paul in 2014, seeks to shore up the rights of Americans facing civil asset forfeiture proceedings and curb the perverse profit incentives that underline the practice.

“The federal government has made it far too easy for government agencies to take and profit from the property of those who have not been convicted of a crime,” said Paul. “The FAIR Act will protect Americans’ Fifth Amendment rights from being infringed upon by ensuring that government agencies no longer profit from taking the property of U.S. citizens without due process.”

Under current practices, federal agencies, often in partnership with state and local police departments, may seize a person’s cash, home or vehicle simply upon the suspicion that such assets were connected to criminal activity. One need not even be charged or convicted of a crime to have personal assets permanently seized.

All the government needs to do is meet the relatively low standard of a preponderance of the evidence to prevail in court — while innocent owners have the burden of trying to prove their innocence and bearing the costs of legally opposing government authorities.

This has created a situation where the federal government has seized billions of dollars in assets under questionable circumstances. According to the Institute for Justice, from 2001 to 2014, the forfeiture funds of the Department of Justice and Treasury Department took in nearly $29 billion. This provides financial incentive to both federal agencies and state and local partners, who get a cut of the money through “equitable sharing,” to increasingly focus on cases with revenue-generating potential.

To read more click here.  

Inspector General: DEA Seizes Money without Ties to Criminal Investigations

Drugs and cash seized in Portland.

Drugs and cash seized in Portland.

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

The DEA is seizing massive amounts of cash from people who are not connected to a criminal investigation, according to a scathing report by the Justice Department’s inspector general.

In the 74-page report released Wednesday, the inspector general cautioned that the DEA may be violating the civil liberties of people whose is seized, the Washington Post reports.

The inspector general concluded the DEA was unable to demonstrate how asset forfeiture practices benefit criminal investigations.

The Post cites one example:

The DEA took more than $70,000 from a piece of checked luggage without doing any more investigation or attempting to question the owner at the airport — instead simply putting a receipt in the bag and sending it on to its final destination.

“Even accepting that the circumstances surrounding the discovery of this large volume of concealed currency justified law enforcement suspicion and seizure, we find it troubling that the DEA would make an administrative forfeiture without attempting to advance an investigation, especially considering that the DEA had opportunities to contact the potential owners of the currency instead of simply providing written notice of the seizure,” the inspector general wrote.