Friday, November 14, 2014

Civil asset forfeiture: A license to steal

Civil asset forfeiture has to be one of the most odious police practices in America and needs to be stopped. According to the New York Times, the law

“allows the government, without ever securing a conviction or filing a criminal charge, to seize property suspected of having ties to crime.”

It basically gives the government the green light to steal from you if it wants what you have. In 2012 alone, $4.3 billion worth of assets were taken by law enforcement agencies throughout the country. They often sell off the cars, electronics, and boats they steal and keep the money to buy things for their departments. This practice is one more evil outgrowth of the Drug War that has expanded in scope from the 1980s to today, and now includes a vast array of suspected offenses ranging from drunk driving to shoplifting.

I know someone who fell victim to this practice and had her car confiscated before any charges were issued. Even when you manage to get your property back, you pay outrageous fines, so the cops win either way. It may be technically legal, but it is in no way constitutional, and there are organizations working to halt civil asset forfeitures. One such organization is the Institute for Justice. If you are so inclined, support their efforts. You or I could be the next victim.

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