If you don’t know what “civil asset forfeiture” is, the short answer is: The police get to take your money and property and keep it for themselves even if you didn’t commit, or were even charged with, a crime. If you want the long answer, watch John Oliver’s definitive take on it here. Needless to say, introducing a profit motive to policing is a terrible idea, so a lot of people were understandably happy when the federal version of the program was suspended last year.
The Justice Department today 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 asset forfeiture cases under federal instead of state law. The Justice Department had suspended payments under this program back in December, due to budget cuts included in last year’s spending bill.
This program allows the police to walk into your house with little to no justification, take your giant flatscreen TV and keep it to watch football games back at the station. Just to be clear, the police have admitted that they like to target people they KNOW will have nice stuff to take. They go after nice cars, expensive computers, etc. because they get to keep it and use it knowing there’s almost no chance they’ll ever have to give it back.
Does that sound constitutional in any way, shape or form?
Even worse, as the law enforcement community tumbles to the fact that they can rob the public blind, they’ve gone on a spree that puts actual criminals to shame:
Asset forfeiture is fast growing — in 2014, for instance, federal authorities seized over $5 billion in assets. That’s more than the amount of money lost in every single burglary that year.
And the police wonder WHY they’ve lost the public’s trust? Seriously?
Now that the program has resumed, they’re going to want to make up for lost time so expect to hear an increasing number of horror stories in the news. Also look for stories of the police using asset forfeiture as retaliation against all those pesky Black Lives Matter protesters that keep making them look bad by filming the police unnecessarily beating/killing unarmed black people. Because why stop at abusing your power for personal gain when you can get some payback at the same time?
Featured image via memes.com