Civil Forfeiture to be Limited on Orders of AG Holder

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Jan. 15, 2105 (WASHINTON) The Washington Post reports that Attorney General Eric Holder “barred local and state police from using federal law to seize cash, cars and other property without proving that a crime occurred.” This is known as equitable sharing and has led to the confiscation of billions of dollars by local agencies since it’s inception. The split was 80-20 percent.

Critics of the program pointed out that many local jurisdictions used the program to supplement budgets, and at times get around budgetary limits placed on them by city councils and board of supervisors. This is also a product of the war on drugs, and started in 1984 with the Comprehensive Crime Control Act.

Agencies were able to participate in the process by being part of a joint investigation. The other way was by the Feds adopting a local seizure, that met Federal standards.

This change, according to the WAPO, is the most comprehensive check on police power since these seizures started over three decades ago. According to the reporting, “With this new policy, effective immediately, the Justice Department is taking an important step to prohibit federal agency adoptions of state and local seizures, except for public safety reasons.”

One of the problems with this program is that the funds had little, if any, oversight. This also became a great incentive for law enforcement agencies to carry out the seizures and have them adopted by the Feds. It became a corrupting force in American law enforcement according to critics.

In 2011 San Diego County formalized this process by establishing a civil asset forfeiture program. According to Ordinance 10182

Such assets are those which have been seized by law enforcement agencies during the investigation of criminal activities, subsequently forfeited by judicial or administrative decision, and transferred to the Sheriff as a result of participation in acts leading to a Federal or State Governmental seizure or forfeiture. These assets may include, but are not limited to, cash, real estate, motor vehicles, airplanes and boats. The Program’s purpose shall be to provide an added incentive to the Sheriff‘s Department to join with Federal, State and other local law enforcement agencies to stem the rising tide of crime, especially illegal drug trafficking.

It will be interesting to see how the County reacts to this breaking news from Washington. This is a major development that further chips at the war on drugs. This makes sense as the culture around marihuana use in particular, and acceptance of such, has increased around the country.

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Categories: Civil Forfeiiture, County of San Diego, Drug War, Holder

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