End of the road for civil asset forfeiture?

I have written repeatedly about the abuse of the so-called ‘civil asset forfeiture’ provisions in the law that many government authorities use to seize the assets of people simply because of the suspicion that they may have been involved in a crime. The government holds on to these assets even if the person is not even charged with the crime. It should not be surprising that it is mostly low-income people who are at the receiving end. The people whose assets are seized have to sue the government to get them back, a complicated and expensive process, and many of the affected people simply do not have the resources to do so, so they end up losing their homes and their cars, which are often the only assets they have.
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Civil asset forfeiture and race

I have mentioned before the menace of civil asset forfeitures, where police can seize the assets of people even before they are convicted of any crime and make it well nigh impossible for them to get it back even if they are completely innocent. This has become just another way for local jurisdictions to raise money to fund their operations, particularly their police departments. Kevin Drum discusses a new study that looks at which particular jurisdictions are more likely to indulge in this practice. The result should come as no surprise to those who have been following this issue.
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Civil asset forfeiture abuses curtailed

I have written many times of the evil of civil asset forfeiture by authorities in many states, whereby the property of people is seized by the police and other state authorities even though the people are never charged with any crime. This constitutes nothing less than theft by the state and the victims (as usual) are ordinary people who do not have the resources to fight the authorities and get their property back. Police and local government were using this as a form of revenue to pay salaries, buy equipment and cars, and renovate their facilities.
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Holder curbs federal role in civil asset forfeitures

In the waning days of his tenure in office, Attorney General Eric Holder has taken some actions that are praiseworthy. First he has criticized the trigger-happy behavior of many police departments, including the Cleveland one. Then he said that his office will defend the rights of same-sex couples to marry in the upcoming case before the US Supreme Court.
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Reforming civil asset forfeiture laws

There has been increased attention to the abuse of civil forfeiture laws. These are laws that enable authorities to seize the property of individuals even if they are never even charged with a crime and putting the burden on them to go through the complex and expensive legal process to get back their property. Mark Frauenfelder describes what happens in Philadelphia.
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Civil asset forfeiture in the news again

Some time ago, I wrote about the process known as ‘civil asset forfeiture’ where the authorities can pre-emptively seize someone’s assets and force them to incur the trouble and expense of going to court to get it back. This practice nets the government about $5 billion in revenue annually and many local jurisdictions abuse this power and use such tactics to pay for their police and justice systems.
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Governments making money by seizing assets

The abuse of the civil asset forfeiture laws where police and local agencies seize the assets of people on the slightest of pretexts without having to get a court order or even charge someone with a crime let alone convict them, has reached such epidemic proportions that mainstream news organizations have started running stories on it, rightly focusing on the fact that this is being used as a source of revenue rather than for fighting crime. Law enforcement agencies have essentially become like organized crime syndicates in a shakedown racket.
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Abusing the ‘qualified immunity’ provision to terrorize ordinary people

One of the truths of law enforcement is that if you give police extra powers that are supposed to be invoked only in extreme situations, they will find ways to use those powers more routinely, either to enrich themselves (as we have seen with civil asset forfeiture) or to show off their power and might, as we seen with the use of surplus military style equipment that has been distributed to local police departments. SWAT team that are supposed to be used in extremely dangerous situations are instead used indiscriminately because police love the drama and visibility of SWAT raids. It looks good on the nightly news.
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Making legalized theft great again

In the recent past, police departments across the country went of a spree, taking advantage of the 1984 ‘civil asset forfeiture’ law that allowed them to confiscate the property of people who were merely suspected of being involved with crime even if they were never actually charged with anything. These people had no means of getting their stuff back even of they were innocent unless they were prepared to hire lawyers for a protracted battle, which many were too poor to do.
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