The ideological ‘War on Drugs’ and ‘War on Terror’ have led to some of the most draconian violations of Constitutional rights since President Lincoln removed the right of Habeas Corpus during the Civil War, and President Wilson took over the country using the Overman Act in 1918. And notwithstanding the introduction of a near total surveillance state through the Patriot Act, and the ability to arrest and detain anyone without due process via the NDAA, perhaps one of the more egregious violations of America’s civil liberties is in the government’s authority to be able to seize property without due process under what is known as Civil Forfeiture.
Civil Forfeiture is a law which allows both Federal and local officials to seize property simply on their suspicion of being tied to a crime, even if there is never any investigation, charge, indictment, or conviction. And while civil forfeiture has up until now been primarily bound by a given state’s choice to use its authority or not, on July 19 the Department of Justice (DOJ) issued a policy letter which allows law enforcement officials at all levels of the country to use civil forfeiture laws as they see fit, no matter if a state has the law currently on their books or not.
At every turn, “we the people” are getting swindled, cheated, conned, robbed, raided, pickpocketed, mugged, deceived, defrauded, double-crossed and fleeced by governmental and corporate shareholders of the American police state out to make a profit at taxpayer expense.
President Trump has made it clear his loyalties lie with the police, Attorney General Jeff Sessions has previously declared his love for civil asset forfeiture, the Supreme Court keeps marching in lockstep with the police state, and the police unions don’t want their gravy train to go away, so there’s not much hope for federal reform anytime soon. As always, change will have to begin locally and move upwards.
Some state legislatures (Florida, Michigan, Nebraska, New Mexico, and Ohio) are beginning to push back against these clearly unconstitutional asset forfeiture schemes. As the National Review reports, “New Mexico now requires a criminal conviction before law enforcement can seize property, while police in Florida must prove “beyond reasonable doubt” that property is linked to a crime before it’s seized.”
And it is that pushback that has seemingly pushed the federal government to ‘fix’ the situation. As Reuters reports, the U.S. Justice Department announced on Wednesday that the federal government will reinstate a program that helps local and state law enforcement seize cash and other assets they suspect have been earned from crimes.
Local police will now be able to seize cash, often from those suspected of drug crimes, even in states that do not condone the policy.
Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein told reporters that most seizures were warranted because the “vast majority” of people who have property taken by police do not contest it in court.
“This is going to enable us to work with local police and our prosecutors to ensure that when assets are lawfully seized they are not returned to criminals,” said Rosenstein at a media briefing at the Justice Department.
The Obama administration had rolled back the policy in 2015, saying it incentivized police to take money from people who had committed crimes.
Since former U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder weighed in on the issue in 2015, Justice Department agencies like the Drug Enforcement Administration has been barred from rewarding local police for taking possessions from people they stop.
Now, the federal government will again be able to return up to 80 percent of the assets seized to local law enforcement.
Rosenstein said the 2015 policy had a chilling effect on seizures by local law enforcement.
Many states have civil asset forfeiture laws that allow the state government to redistribute money seized for programs like education. But the federal program returns cash directly to the police department that took the asset, allowing them to buy new equipment or as drug sniffing dogs.
The Justice Department under President Donald Trump has made efforts to improve relationships with local and state law enforcement, which they viewed as damaged under the Obama administration. Rosenstein said that the president had heard from police who were concerned about the 2015 policy, but the administration was not acting to score political points with police unions that supported Trump’s campaign.
“This is not an effort to appease any particular constituency. It is an effort to empower law enforcement,” Rosenstein said.
The Police State’s tentacles just reached a little further into your ‘pocketbook’ as what has become known as “policing for profit,” goes nationwide.. by federal law!
DoJ’s Full new asset forfeiture policy letter below (confirming police can sezie proeprty from people not charged with crimes even in states where it is banned)… – Zerohedge
Source: The Daily Economist