Asset seizures fuel police spending
Robert O'Harrow Jr. and Steven Rich
Since 2008, state and local police have seized and retained over $2 billion in cash and property from people, many of whom were never convicted of, or even prosecuted for, crimes. Authorized as a way to hinder organized crime, such seizures have blossomed into an alternative source of funding for local law enforcement.
The Washington Post used FOIA to obtain 43,000 reports since 2008 that showed the Department of Justice encourages state and local law enforcement agencies to seize money and property - without requiring any subsequent legal process - and retain up to 80% of the value of the assets seized.
police, law enforcement, seizure, property, crime, Department of Justice, DOJ, organized crime, forfeiture, asset seizure, Equitable Sharing
Attorney General Eric Holder announced that DOJ would cease its "Equitable Sharing" program - though critics noted that the DOJ's change of policy might only eliminate about 14% of the seizures, while maintaining a loophole and not addressing most state/local seizures. (See "Rule of Law 1, Outrageous Police Power 0," http://www.washingtonpost.com/news/volokh-conspiracy/wp/2015/01/17/rule-of-law-1-outrageous-police-power-0-eric-holder-limits-asset-seizure-equitable-sharing-program/ and "How the Press Exaggerated Holder's Forfeiture Reform," http://reason.com/blog/2015/01/19/how-the-press-exaggerated-holders-forfei)
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