Washington, DC (PT) – Attorney General Jeff Sessions spoke of a new federal policy from the Justice Department aimed at ramping up civil asset forfeiture. That’s the one that allows law enforcement to seize cash, and property from suspected/convicted criminals. Sessions is sending a clear message to the United States with this statement. The Justice Department has no interest in reforming the policing system, and every intention of utilizing law enforcement as profiteers. This ideal plunges the nation deeper into the police state it is currently experiencing.
What Sessions Said…
Here is the video of Sessions via Reuters/WAPO;
Attorney General Jeff Sessions plans to ramp up asset seizures, especially 'from drug dealers' https://t.co/FcHDMyAuIN
“We hope to issue this week a directive on asset forfeiture… Especially ill gotten gains from drug dealers. With care, and we gotta be careful, with professionalism we plan to develop policy to increase forfeiture. No criminal should be allowed to keep the proceeds of their illegal activity… Sharing of assets with our State, local law enforcement, and colleagues is appropriate. We want forfeitures to increase, sharing to increase, and that sharing to go up.”
What sessions said was that essentially, the militarization of the police nationwide should continue, and further. By seizing, and playing cop vs. citizen in court. One can pretty much assume taking on a legal battle with a police officer is not going to be easy. So if you are an everyday ordinary citizen, in a court whether the verdict is given by a judge or a jury, the odds are against you trying to be the robber vs. the cop in litigation. Even cases that clearly the officer should find at least some reprimand or punishment… The officer seems to be above the law regarding the justice system as is, and Sessions is essentially saying in his words ‘we gotta be careful,’ putting the oversight and rationale back on the departments whose officers continually get acquitted of obvious wrongdoing.
… What is Civil Forfeiture?
Civil asset forfeiture is a heavily debated, controversial topic that is best described as; Local law enforcement agencies are given the right to seize assets, including; cash, cars, homes, etc. of any person suspected of a criminal act where seized belongings are purported to be gained from crime. This practice happens constantly across the country, and is a significant portion of revenue generation for local PD’s thereof. The practice of asset forfeiture produces victims of police overreach, and misconduct that can only be described as astounding. Proponents of this practice argue that it is merely a tool utilized by law enforcement to benefits departments in a way that allows them to better fight crime somehow. It’s really easy to understand civil asset forfeiture through words from Harvard Law Review;
Another way municipalities extract revenue through policing is civil forfeiture, a mechanism by which police confiscate assets that they claim are linked to crime. These seizures can happen even when the property owner is never arrested (or is acquitted of the underlying crime), so long as the police assert that the seized property was probably used in a crime.
This practice essentially allows the funding of police departments nationwide from sometimes illegally seized assets to fund officers, with increasing equipment while continuing this practice. And you can see the paradox? More police practicing asset forfeiture, more citizens being caught in the web, more people becoming victims of police misconduct.
The Fight Against This
Many states have adopted some sort of civil forfeiture ‘reform‘ and all of them that have legislated further have authored with interesting tones, and a similar narrative
Let’s start with Ohio, which basically states that Ohio can still practice asset forfeiture, but cannot transfer anything to Federal authorities, unless the value exceeds $100,000;
“A law enforcement agency or prosecuting authority shall not directly or indirectly transfer or refer any property seized by the agency or authority to any federal law enforcement authority or other federal agency for purposes of forfeiture under federal law unless the value of the seized property exceeds one hundred thousand dollars, excluding the potential value of the sale of contraband, or the property is being transferred or referred for federal criminal forfeiture proceedings.”
Okay, how about New Mexico;
“A. A law enforcement agency shall not directly or indirectly transfer seized property to a federal law enforcement authority or other federal agency unless:
(1) the value of the seized property exceeds fifty thousand dollars ($50,000), excluding the potential value of the sale of contraband; and
(2) the law enforcement agency determines that the criminal conduct that gave rise to the seizure is interstate in nature and sufficiently complex to justify the transfer of the property; or
(3) the seized property may only be forfeited under federal law.”
Now to New Mexico where it is pretty much the same, only their number decreases to $50,000. Remember, this doesn’t reform the action of asset forfeiture, rather with whom can receive the assets. How about the Capitol, Washington, DC?
“Beginning October 1, 2018, deposit in the General Fund of the District government the currency and proceeds received by any agency of the District government from any state or federal agency pursuant to a multiple-jurisdiction or shared forfeiture program.”
“Beginning October 1, 2018, the District shall not refer seized property to a federal agency seeking the adoption by the federal agency of the seized property. Nothing in this title shall be construed to prohibit the federal government, or any of its agencies, from seeking federal forfeiture.”
California, Nebraska, Maryland… The states with reform have more or less the same idea. Asset forfeiture is okay as long as the money in small enough sums is not going to the federal government. Some States have adopted that forfeiture can only proceed with a conviction. The idea of reform is there, arguably, the idea of de-funding police departments nationwide is there, but is it tangible?
The Institute for Justice has quite a bit of reading regarding this subject including the linked article; Policing For Profit. Ultimately, it’s up to you and your ideal. For the most part policing is a subject that most understand, but behind the scenes, the police unions, the lobbyists want the population to believe that the most the public can do is sit and pout. But that’s not true.
The best idea for you now is to get involved. Share this article, talk to your friends, family, and community. Educate yourself of individuals that have had their own, and their families lives affected by police that assume one thing, and fight it in court to line their PD’s pockets with money that may have been earned legitimately. Try legislation? As unpopular as this may sound, and as big a fight as it would be, that’s the next step. To try and fight the completely uphill legal battle of abolishing this practice once and for all, through court proceedings.
Last, but not at all least… Revolution. Let’s face the facts, even for petty drug dealing, a person should not lose their home or even their vehicle because they were being felonious. Wanting to oust a family from it’s home falls under the same ideal that get’s passed around police departments nationwide… “A few bad apples.” If a mother cannot get her children to school, because the police seized the family SUV due to Dad’s wrongdoing, is that justice, or revenue?
Maybe it’s time to corroborate a nationwide protest? Open carry to your local PD and demand every officer lay down their badge and gun? Maybe then they might get the picture? It’s better than just getting screwed. Right?
This article was prepared by James Job for The Pontiac Tribune.