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John Yoder and Brad Cates, who headed the Asset Forfeiture Office at the U.S. Department of Justice from 1983 to 1989, slammed civil forfeiture as a “complete corruption” and “fundamentally at odds with our judicial system and notions of fairness,” in an op-ed for The Washington Post. Thanks to civil forfeiture laws, police and prosecutors don’t need to charge someone with a crime to seize and keep their property. Yoder and Cates “were heavily involved in the creation of the asset forfeiture initiative at the Justice Department,” they write, but after seeing civil forfeiture become a “gross perversion of the status of government amid a free citizenry,” the two now believe it should be “abolished.”
In order to seize cash, police typically pulled drivers over for minor traffic infractions. During the stop, police would look for “indicators” of suspicious, criminal activity. Tinted windows, air fresheners, trash in the car, “a profusion of energy drinks,” “a driver who is too talkative or too quiet” and signs of nervousness have all been considered indicators. For one Florida sheriff, “cars obeying the speed limit were suspect—their desire to avoid being stopped made them stand out.”
Police are sworn to protect the public, not to profiteer. “The police belong to the people,” remarked Stamper. “Not the other way around.”
For one Florida sheriff, “cars obeying the speed limit were suspect—their desire to avoid being stopped made them stand out.”
originally posted by: InverseLookingGlass
a reply to: AlaskanDad
How can Americans look themselves in the mirror, spout about being free and brave, then pass this on to their kids?
It's truly appalling.
- There have been 61,998 cash seizures made on highways and elsewhere since 9/11 without search warrants or indictments through the Equitable Sharing Program, totaling more than $2.5 billion. State and local authorities kept more than $1.7 billion of that while Justice, Homeland Security and other federal agencies received $800 million. Half of the seizures were below $8,800.
- Only a sixth of the seizures were legally challenged, in part because of the costs of legal action against the government. But in 41 percent of cases — 4,455 — where there was a challenge, the government agreed to return money. The appeals process took more than a year in 40 percent of those cases and often required owners of the cash to sign agreements not to sue police over the seizures.
-Hundreds of state and local departments and drug task forces appear to rely on seized cash, despite a federal ban on the money to pay salaries or otherwise support budgets. The Post found that 298 departments and 210 task forces have seized the equivalent of 20 percent or more of their annual budgets since 2008.
-Agencies with police known to be participating in the Black Asphalt intelligence network have seen a 32 percent jump in seizures beginning in 2005, three times the rate of other police departments. Desert Snow-trained officers reported more than $427 million in cash seizures during highway stops in just one five-year period, according to company officials. More than 25,000 police have belonged to Black Asphalt, company officials said.
-State law enforcement officials in Iowa and Kansas prohibited the use of the Black Asphalt network because of concerns that it might not be a legal law enforcement tool. A federal prosecutor in Nebraska warned that Black Asphalt reports could violate laws governing civil liberties, the handling of sensitive law enforcement information and the disclosure of pretrial information to defendants. But officials at Justice and Homeland Security continued to use it.
Steven Peterson, a former U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration agent who arranged highway interdiction training through a company called the 4:20 Group, said that patrol officers used to try to make their names with large drug busts. He said he saw that change when agency leaders realized that cash seizures could help their departments during lean times.
“They saw this as a way to provide equipment and training for their guys,” Peterson said. “If you seized large amounts of cash, that’s the gift that keeps on giving.”