Saturday, August 05, 2017

30.4 - Not Good News: DOJ re-starts "adoptive seizures"

Not Good News: DOJ re-starts "adoptive seizures"

Okay. I have talked several times about civil asset forfeiture, the corrupt outgrowth of the corrupt war on drugs under which police can seize personal assets based on nothing more than their claimed belief that those assets either are related to illegal drug activity or were paid for with the proceeds of illegal drug activity. They can do this even if they have no basis for any charges against the person possessing the asset. What's more, at that point the burden of proof gets flipped and if you want your stuff or your money back, you have to somehow prove the negative that it was not related to illegal activity.

No, I am not exaggerating. Not one bit.

And remember, this is a civil matter, not a criminal one, so you have no right to an attorney and so any legal costs get paid out of your own pocket, with the result that most victims don't even try to get their money or goods returned because they don't have the money to fight back or even if they do, the legal costs involved would be more than the asset is worth.

It is a horrendous practice which over the past three years 24 states have moved to curtail, often requiring conviction of some crime before assets can be seized.

But even with limitations, there was a big loophole for the cops. It's called adoptive seizure and it works this way: A state cops seizes your property and then transfers it to the federal government, which "adopts" the seizure and keeps the property under federal law, which is unrestricted by the protections in your state. The feds then give 80 percent of the value of the seized property to the state - and not even to the state's general fund but to the cops and prosecutors. In other words, the feds were essentially paying state cops to circumvent their own state law.

In 2015, then-Attorney General Eric Holder effectively eliminated the adoptive seizure program, with the result that seizures under it dropped from $65 million to $15,000 in one year.

So what's the Not Good News? On July 19, Attorney General Jeff "I am not a racist, I swear I'm not" Sessions announced the DOJ is reauthorizing adoptive seizures, re-opening the door to the corruption and abuse that have marked the program from the beginning.

A coalition of 21 constitutional and civil rights organizations ranging from the Institute for Justice and the ACLU to the Goldwater Institute and the Reason Foundation have called on the Congress to quickly act on legislation to shut this down - but frankly, I'd say don't count on it that happening any time soon.

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