DOJ Reopens Asset Forfeiture Sharing Program After Temporary, Budget-Related Shutdown

from the and-there-was-much-[law-enforcement]-rejoicing dept

Right before the end of last year, the DOJ — facing budget cuts — announced it would be ceasing its “equitable sharing” program with local law enforcement agencies. These agencies complained loudly about the unfairness of being decoupled from the asset forfeiture money train, as this partnership often allowed them to route around more restrictive state laws.

Today, they’re breathing more easily, thanks to the DOJ’s resumption of the temporarily-disabled program.

The Justice Department has announced that it is resuming a controversial practice that allows local police departments to funnel a large portion of assets seized from citizens into their own coffers under federal law.

The “Equitable Sharing Program” gives police the option of prosecuting some asset forfeiture cases under federal instead of state law, particularly in instances where local law enforcement officers have a relationship with federal authorities as part of a joint task force. Federal forfeiture policies are more permissive than many state policies, allowing police to keep up to 80 percent of assets they seize.

A North Carolina sheriff is looking at getting his hands on nearly a million dollars — all tenuously tied to illegal activity.

(The equitable sharing program) is a great benefit,” Graves said. “It takes money from the drug trade and puts it to better use for the community.”

He said that according to the best estimate from pending cases, equitable sharing should provide the sheriff’s office with approximately $846,000.

Meanwhile, another North Carolina sheriff says the lack of sharing might have resulted in dead officers had the feds not resumed handing out money taken from people never charged with a crime.

“The restoration of the Equitable Sharing Funds will serve as a boost to the morale of law enforcement professionals nationwide,” said Alamance County Sheriff Terry Johnson. “These monies were used by my agency in the past to purchase much needed equipment for the safety of our officers and the citizens of our communities. I am very thankful to God that we did not lose any officers because of the lack of safety equipment during the suspension of the Equitable Sharing Program…”

And it appears New Hampshire is either heavily-reliant on equitable sharing, or its representatives heavily-reliant on law enforcement support. Both senators and the state’s governor issued statements welcoming back the DOJ’s set of twisted incentives.

Then there’s this article, with a headline that appears to have been written by law enforcement.

Money coming back: Federal program resumes helping local municipalities

This is not good news for citizens, as they’re now facing an increased risk of having their cash and belongings taken from them without ever being charged with a crime. The best move would have been to leave this permanently defunded. The DOJ isn’t saying how it’s making up the $1.2 billion difference that resulted in the shutdown last year, but it likely has something to do with the fact that its seizures — via the FBI and DEA — are still generating plenty of “income.”

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Comments on “DOJ Reopens Asset Forfeiture Sharing Program After Temporary, Budget-Related Shutdown”

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36 Comments
JoeCool (profile) says:

A little translation needed

These monies were used by my agency in the past to purchase much needed equipment for the safety of our officers and the citizens of our communities.

Because the citizens really needed a tank and rpg’s and ak-47s to protect the community, right? Probably quite a bit of this money is handed right back to the government for military equipment. That’s probably why they had to restart the program – they saw a big drop in sales of used military stuff.

That One Guy (profile) says:

Re: Government thieves

Because war! Drug War, War on Terrorism, any other ‘war’ you can think of, everything goes in ‘war’, rules are for ‘peace-time’! Criminals neither have no deserve rights, and the government and/or police are never wrong, so if they say someone(or more accurately something) is guilty then that should be good enough for everyone!

/poe

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:3 Government thieves

Laws are created to disadvantage the citizens… no one else.

Even regulations are created in a way to ‘Appear’ to disadvantage businesses but they just disadvantage the citizens in the end.

The People of the US are lost, ignorant, and have the government we asked for. Yet, you will interestingly find very few willing to admit that they helped cause this problem. Just another symptom of the problem, Americans are like a bunch of raging alcoholics that refuse to admit they have a problem.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

“I would swear they are taking the opportunity to abuse their powers as much as possible lately. Almost like they want people to start fighting back.”

Yep – they are seeing how well they have desensitized us. At some point the fog will start to clear, but they’ll be well entrenched and ready for a battle by then. Almost sounds like I’m talking about daesh rather than our own corrupt-to-the-gills govt.

Bruce C. says:

Sigh…abandon all hope, ye who enter here. Until there’s a series of good test cases bankrolled by ACLU and other civlib organizations, our lives, our fortunes and our sacred honor are at risk from “law enforcement”. Apart from all the constitutional issues, the big Catch-22 in this is that if you’ve had your assets seized, you don’t have the wherewithal to hire an attorney to appeal the seizure. The SCOTUS has ruled that the government has to allow a defendant to use “clean” assets to fund a defense, but what good does that do if the claim is that all of your assets are dirty.

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