The feds have resumed a controversial program that lets cops take stuff and keep it
Key Excerpts from Article on Website of Washington Post
Posted: April 4th, 2016
The Justice Department has announced that it is resuming a controversial practice that allows local police departments to funnel a large portion of assets seized from citizens into their own coffers under federal law. The "Equitable Sharing Program" gives police the option of prosecuting some asset forfeiture cases under federal instead of state law. Federal forfeiture policies are more permissive than many state policies, allowing police to keep up to 80 percent of assets they seize. Asset forfeiture is a contentious practice that lets police seize and keep cash and property from people who are never convicted of wrongdoing - and in many cases, never charged. Use of the practice has exploded in recent years, prompting concern that, in some cases, police are motivated more by profit and less by justice. A wide-ranging Washington Post investigation in 2014 found that police had seized $2.5 billion in cash alone without warrants or indictments since 2001. In response, then-Attorney General Eric Holder announced new restrictions on some federal asset forfeiture practices. Asset forfeiture is fast growing - in 2014, for instance, federal authorities seized more than $5 billion in assets. That's more than the value of assets lost in every single burglary that year. Reformers had hoped that the suspension of the program in December was a signal that the Justice Department was looking for ways to rein in the practice. But that no longer appears to be the case.
Note: Some police decide what property to seize based on departmental "wish lists". For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles about government corruption and the erosion of civil liberties.