It looks like the Department of Justice has put the brakes on Federal involvement in asset forfeiture.
Here is the Guardian’s report: “Attorney general Eric Holder puts halt to warrantless ‘stop and seize’ tactics.”
State and local police will no longer be allowed to seize citizens’ property without evidence that a crime has occurred, following an action by the attorney general, Eric Holder, to effectively end the program.
Holder on Friday announced a new policy that, with a few exceptions, prohibits state and local law enforcement from implementing the controversial Equitable Sharing Program, which was created in 1985 as part of the US government’s “war on drugs”.
The program is meant to allow law enforcement agencies to use property they believe has been obtained through illegal means to inject funds into their departments. In practice, it has been criticized for allowing officers to seize the assets of people in such innocuous circumstances as traffic stops without requiring the property’s owner to be found guilty of a crime.
The Washington Post has been investigating the controversial program and said in September that police have made more than $2.5bn from people without search warrants since 9/11.
There is no love lost between Eric Holder and me, but he did the right thing in this case. Sometimes even bad people do good deeds, especially when they are getting embarrassed. And, when the news media to the north of you is warning their citizens to be careful traveling through your country because they might get robbed by bandits with badges, that is pretty embarrassing.
So he finally took action. The law is still on the books, sadly, but the feds won’t be participating.
Of course, there is a huge loophole!
Under the new policy, the justice department said law enforcement officials can still seize property that “relates to public safety concerns, including firearms, ammunition, explosives and property associated with child pornography”.
So basically when will law enforcement find a firearm and not have an excuse to say it is a “public safety concern”? Even the child pornography exception makes no sense because no one has been convicted of a crime in a court of law. So, again, how can this be legal?
Nevertheless, it is a start. Now we need to go further and get these barbaric laws overturned in all the states of the Union.