US Justice Department Bans Local, State Police From Using Federal Civil Forfeiture Program

Cameron Aubernon
by Cameron Aubernon
us justice department bans local state police from using federal civil forfeiture

The United States Department of Justice announced Friday that local and state law enforcement can no longer use federal programs to seize the assets of those believed to have committed a crime without conviction.

The Washington Post reports the move would “prohibit federal agency adoptions of state and local seizures, except for public safety reasons,” such as illegal firearms, explosives and property associated with child pornography, per outgoing Attorney General Eric Holder. Cash and vehicle seizures by said authorities, made under the oft-abused War on Drugs Era Equitable Sharing asset forfeiture program, can now only be made under state law.

The federal program had become a boon to local enforcement over the years, netting $2.5 billion in assets from citizens without warrants or indictments since September 11, 2001. Once the assets were in possession, they would be used to acquire items such as military-grade equipment and premium vehicles, all without much oversight.

Despite criticism from those affected and their supporters — believing the new policy would hinder legitimate efforts to fight drug trafficking and terrorism — Holder says the policy “will ensure that these authorities can continue to be used to take the profit out of crime and return assets to victims, while safeguarding civil liberties,” adding that even the federal government has little use for either criminal or civil forfeiture laws these days. Around 7,600 of the 18,000 police departments in the U.S. would be affected by the changes implemented.

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  • El scotto El scotto on Jan 19, 2015

    Two comments: 1. So many theorize, spout off,and sound like Starbucks Sartres without having any experience and I do mean exactly zero experience with civil forfeiture procedures. No, I don't mean my cousin knew this guy who knew a guy in another town this really, really happened to babble. I mean real experience with this issue. If not, I bid you good day Sir/Ma'am. Please read my earlier comments about my rental properties for clarification 2. Now this is important! Do I appeal to Derek or Cameron or Jack to get my TTAC handle changed to "bootlicker"? Just curious here.

    • Lie2me Lie2me on Jan 19, 2015

      Yeah, I read them and they don't say much about what happened

  • Vent-L-8 Vent-L-8 on Jan 20, 2015

    if nothing else good comes from this administration's justice department ... this is enough of a legacy.

    • LuciferV8 LuciferV8 on Jan 20, 2015

      For once, Eric Holder does the right thing. Well, I guess that whole broken clock adage holds true.

  • Cartunez Cartunez on Jan 20, 2015

    Not quite as good as originally thought but still maybe opening the door to this injustice can help close this theft ring.

  • Art  Vandelay Art Vandelay on Jan 20, 2015

    Oh no...not this time. I'm not getting sucked into another one of these. More Junkyard articles and brown cars, less guns and cops. The internets are full of politics should I be so inclined.