At the beginning of this year, Attorney General Eric Holder attempted to close an exploitable loophole in asset forfeiture laws. State and local law enforcement agencies often sought federal “adoption” of seizures in order to route around statutes that dumped assets into general funds or otherwise limited them from directly profiting from these seizures. By partnering with federal agencies, local law enforcement often saw bigger payouts than with strictly local forfeitures.
The loophole closure still had its own loopholes (seizures for “public safety,” various criminal acts), but it did make a small attempt to straighten out some really perverted incentives. But deep down inside, it appears the DOJ isn’t really behind true forfeiture reform. In fact, it seems to be urging local law enforcement to fight these efforts by pointing out just how much money these agencies will “lose” if they can’t buddy up with Uncle Sam.
It’s been a while since I’ve reported on the lawless and barbaric practice of civil asset forfeiture. However, just because it hasn’t been a focus doesn’t mean it isn’t happening. Indeed, it appears the same federal agencies that couldn’t find a bank executive they didn’t want to coddle, take particular pleasure in harassing and abusing average Americans generally, and small businesspeople in particular.
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