Swamp The Drain: Trump Sees No Reason To Stop Cops From Stealing Citizens' Assets On Mere Suspicion
Emily Stephenson writes at Reuters:
President Donald Trump said on Tuesday there was "no reason" to curb law enforcement agencies that seize cash, vehicles and other assets of people suspected of crimes, a practice that some lawmakers and activists have criticized for denying legal rights.
...In 2016, a group of Republican and Democratic lawmakers introduced a bill, which did not become law, that would have required the government to do more to show that seized property was connected to a crime. Critics have said suspects have few avenues to challenge the seizures and that forfeiture laws were sometimes abused. Police in some cases seize property from people who are never charged or convicted.
Trump, a Republican, asked acting U.S. Attorney General Dana Boente, who was at the gathering, whether executive orders or legislation were needed to support forfeiture. Boente said that was unnecessary but law enforcement agencies needed encouragement.
Actually, they have been doing just fine -- except in the states where asset forfeiture has been stopped by law -- in deeming citizens' money and assets guilty on mere suspicion, seizing them, and then requiring citizens to prove their money or goods were legally gotten. (Not how America is supposed to work.)
Of course, this often requires poor people to spend big on lawyers -- which they can't afford -- and to pay more money than they lost to get their money or goods back.
All without any conviction for any crime -- without any actual proof of wrongdoing.
And when the law enforcement creeps seizing their goods or money often have a vested interest in the seizures -- getting to keep all or some of the proceeds for their stations, etc.
Walter Olson writes at Overlawyered:
One reason reform of civil asset forfeiture has made rapid progress lately in legislatures around the country, including my own state of Maryland, is that the public strongly disapproves of the current state of the law when it is explained.
In December Cato released a polling study on criminal justice issues, led by my colleague Emily Ekins. Among its findings: "Fully 84% of Americans oppose the practice of police taking 'a person's money or property that is suspected to have been involved in a drug crime before the person is convicted of a crime.' Only 16% approve."
The strong majority extends across all groups of respondents, including Republicans (76%) and those with a highly favorable attitude toward police (78%).
Asked what should happen with the proceeds of seizures upon conviction, only 24% of the public favored letting local police departments keep the seized goods or cash, while 76% said it should go instead to state-level coffers. which would reduce the incentive for zealous seizure.