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