January 5, 2016

Justice Department backs off asset seizures

Popular Resistance - On December 23, the Department of Justice announced that it was suspending a program that made it easier for local police departments to confiscate property seized from citizens. The program, called equitable sharing, gave law enforcement the ability to prosecute asset forfeiture under more lenient federal law. Under federal law the police could keep up to 80 percent of assets they seize, regardless of whether or not a crime has been charged. According to a report issued by the Institute of Justice, between 1997 and 2013, 87 percent of DOJ seizures were civil, and only 13 percent were criminal. This means that only 13 percent of the victims–that’s right, 13 percent of the victims–of asset forfeitures were charged with a crime.

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