You already know the war on drugs has failed. But many people don’t know about one of the drug war’s worst policies: asset forfeiture.
Civil asset forfeiture laws allow – and even encourage – law enforcement to seize cash, cars, and other property from suspected law violators – without even charging them with a crime.1 And then what do they do with the cash and property they seized? They keep it for themselves.
Law enforcement officials nationwide have taken in $2.5 billion from nearly 62,000 cash seizures under the federal civil forfeiture program since 2001.
2 In fact, some cities use proceeds from seized assets as a crucial part of their budget; in Washington, DC, for example, police plan for millions of dollars in anticipated proceeds from future civil seizures, even though federal guidelines say “agencies may not commit” to such spending in advance.3
And who do they target the most? Normally people of color, and those unable to afford a lawyer to fight back.4
A vast majority of Americans want Congress to end this brutish practice, and now momentum is mounting for bipartisan reform. But it’s pivotal that we enact real reform — because no one should have their property seized unless they are convicted of a crime in a court of law.
If anyone else did this we would call it highway robbery, but thanks to laws enacted during the height of drug war hysteria in the 1980’s, it’s all technically legal.
Sign the petition and help us end policing for profit. It’s time to end this ugly relic of the drug war.
1. “This Federal Program Lets Cops Seize Cash, Evade State Laws And Keep Over A Billion Dollars.” Forbes, September, 2014. http://onforb.es/1wUQr4L
2. “Federal Asset Seizures Rise, Netting Innocent With Guilty.” The Wall Street Journal, August, 2011. http://on.wsj.com/1NdurNI
3. “DC Police plan for future seizure proceeds years in advance in city budget documents.” The Washington Post, November, 2014. http://wapo.st/11tUnQ4
4. “Stop and Seize.” The Washington Post, September 2014. http://wapo.st/1oQU4T