Posts Tagged ‘Police Confiscations’

Eric Holder bans most federal asset seizures

January 18, 2015

Asset seizures by police in many U.S. localities had become big business, and, in some localities, literal highway robbery.  So the following, which is from the Washington Post, is important good news.

Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. on Friday barred local and state police from using federal law to seize cash, cars and other property without warrants or criminal charges.

Eric Holder

Eric Holder

Holder’s action represents the most sweeping check on police power to confiscate personal property since the seizures began three decades ago as part of the war on drugs.

Since 2008, thousands of local and state police agencies have made more than 55,000 seizures of cash and property worth $3 billion under a civil asset forfeiture program at the Justice Department called Equitable Sharing.

The program has enabled local and state police to make seizures and then have them “adopted” by federal agencies, which share in the proceeds.  It allowed police departments and drug task forces to keep up to 80 percent of the proceeds of adopted seizures, with the rest going to federal agencies.

“With this new policy, effective immediately, the Justice Department is taking an important step to prohibit federal agency adoptions of state and local seizures, except for public safety reasons,” Holder said in a statement.

Holder’s decision allows limited exceptions, including illegal firearms, ammunition, explosives and property associated with child pornography, a small fraction of the total.  This would eliminate virtually all cash and vehicle seizures made by local and state police from the program.

The Fifth Amendment to the Constitution states that “no person shall … be deprived of life, liberty or property without due process of law; nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation.”

Seizure of property of persons not convicted or even charged with a crime is a clear violation of the plain language of the Constitution.  Attorney-General Holder’s commendable action was long overdue.

LINK

Holder limits seized-asset sharing process that split billions with local, state police by Robert O’Harrow Jr., Sari Horowitz and Steven Rich for the Washington Post.

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Afterthought [1/30/2015]

Susie Madrak on the Crooks and Liars blog pointed out something I failed to think of.

What this means, as a practical matter, is that local and police state departments will focus their energies on the firearms and child porn busts, because they’ll be determined to fill those gaping holes in their budgets.

via Crooks and Liars.

Unless, of course, Holder meant that police will only be allowed to seize firearms, ammunition, explosives, child pornography and electronic media used to store child pornography.  But my guess is that Susie Madrak’s interpretation is the correct one.

The passing scene: Links & comments 10/13/14

October 13, 2014

White poverty exists, ignored by Leonard Pitts Jr. for the Miami Herald.

There are more poor, unemployed white people in the USA than there are poor, unemployed black people, and poor whites, too, are targets of prejudice.

I remember being told as a boy that “white trash” were a lower class than “Negroes”.

But the basic cause of poverty is the same in the slums of Detroit or small towns in Kentucky: Employers shutting down and moving out.

Aggressive police take hundreds of millions of dollars from motorists not charged with crimes by Michael Samish, Robert O’Harrow Jr. or Steve Rich for the Washington Post.

Since 9/11, police have seized more than $2.5 billion from 61,998 motorists without search warrants or indictments.  At what point to the police stop being protectors and start being predators?

Tom Cotton and the era of post-truth politics by Steve Benen for MSNBC.

The GOP candidate for Senate for Arkansas tells blatant lies and gets away with it.

The postmodernist philosophy is that there is no such thing as objective truth, only different ways of looking at things.  This philosophy seems to have taken hold in American politics.

Andrew Cuomo Is a Very Flawed Concept by Charles P. Pierce for Esquire.

Given a choice between a right-wing Democratic candidate and an extreme right-wing Republican candidate, This is why I plan to vote for the Green Party candidate for governor of New York.

 

Highway robbery: Policing for dollars

September 9, 2014

Police are allowed to confiscate money and property they assert are used in drug trafficking, even if the owner has not been convicted of a crime or even charged with a crime.

Reporters for the Washington Post told how confiscations fund a big part of the budgets of some police departments.

Confiscations have become so big a business that there are even paid consultants who advise police on how to spot maximize revenue.

I do think it odd that people would have tens of thousands of dollars in cash in their cars, but possessing large amounts of cash is not a crime.   The Fifth Amendment of the Constitution states that “no person … shall be deprived of life, liberty or property without due process of law, not shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation.”

I used to think that being stopped by police at checkpoints and being shaken down for money was something that happened only in poor countries ruled by corrupt dictators.

LINK

Aggressive police take hundreds of millions of dollars from motorists not charged with crimes by Michael Sallah, Richard O’Harrow and Steven Rich for the Washington Post.