It’s a money grab and little more.
That is the oft-stated complaint levied by legions of Americans from across a broad spectrum against a common police practice they roundly condemn.
What citizens, advocacy groups, constitutional scholars and high numbers of personally affected defendants unanimously criticize is law enforcers’ reliance on so-called “civil asset forfeiture.”
What galls them most about the practice is this: Cops take money and other assets from individuals charged with only minor criminal offenses, and they often keep it even if those persons are ultimately never convicted of any crime.
We spotlighted asset forfeiture in a prior Shazam Kianpour blog post, noting in our April 23 entry of last year police departments’ clear “incentive to seize” under such a scheme.
Police officials and prosecutors in Colorado and nationally staunchly defend the practice. They insist it is a vitally important tool that enables them to hit organized crime principals like drug traffickers where it hurts the most – in their pocketbooks.
A recent in-depth media piece concedes the truth of that, but also notes why the general public bristles under the practice. It cites numerous probes and studies revealing that forfeiture “is just as often, if not more frequently, used to seize petty amounts of cash from everyday people, not cartel lords.”
The above article particularly references a recent report released by the public interest law firm Institute for Justice that excoriates asset forfeiture and its supportive rationale. The report concludes from a voluminous culling of relevant data that forfeiture’s stated efficacy is materially overstated by proponents and that enforcement agencies “do use forfeiture to raise revenue.”
As we noted in the aforementioned blog entry, much of the general public already believed that. Reportedly, more than 80% of Americans want the practice stopped now and for good.