Finally! Attorney General Eric Holder today barred police from using Federal civil asset forfeiture laws without warrants or criminal charges. The laws were originally passed as part of the (failed) war on drugs (to confiscate money made in the drug trade, but quickly turned into a money-making operation for local police departments.
Over 55,000 seizures totaling $3 billion in cash and other property have been made. Often property was forfeited even if there was not enough evidence to charge anyone with a crime, and encouraged police to concentrate on otherwise low-priority crimes where they could profit as much as possible. Civil forfeiture was also used disproportionately against minorities, who could not afford to hire lawyers required to get their property back.
The new policy has limited exceptions for illegal firearms, ammunition, explosives, and property associated with child pornography.
I’ve posted before about these crazy laws, which turn our system of justice on its head, and are clearly unconstitutional, depriving citizens of property without any due process of law.
Civil asset forfeiture is institutionalized corruption, and I’m very happy that the Obama administration is taking steps to shut down its abuse.