[Rushtalk] Sheriffs, DA's, state cops hate it that one of their gravy trains has been shut down
John A. Quayle
blueoval57 at verizon.net
Tue Jan 12 15:03:50 MST 2016
At 11:33 AM 1/12/2016, Carl Spitzer wrote:
>34249-justice-department- shuts-down-federal-asset- forfeiture-program
>Justice Department Shuts Down Federal Asset Forfeiture Program
It's about time..................that's just legalized theft!
>The Washington Post
>25 December 2015
>The Department of Justice announced this week
>that it's suspending a controversial program
>that allows local police departments to keep a
>large portion of assets seized from citizens
>under federal law and funnel it into their own coffers.
>The "equitable-sharing" program gives police the
>option of prosecuting asset forfeiture cases
>under federal instead of state law. Federal
>forfeiture policies are more permissive than
>many state policies, allowing police to keep up
>to 80 percent of assets they seize -- even if
>the people they took from are never charged with a crime.
>The DOJ is suspending payments under this
>program due to budget cuts included in the recent spending bill.
>"While we had hoped to minimize any adverse
>impact on state, local, and tribal law
>enforcement partners, the Department is
>deferring for the time being any equitable
>sharing payments from the Program," M. Kendall
>Day, chief of the asset forfeiture and money
>laundering section, wrote in a letterto state
>and local law enforcement agencies.
>In addition to budget cuts last year, the
>program has lost $1.2 billion, according to
>Day's letter. "The Department does not take this
>step lightly," he wrote. "We explored every
>conceivable option that would have enabled us to
>preserve some form of meaningful equitable
>sharing. ... Unfortunately, the combined effect
>of the two reductions totaling $1.2 billion made that impossible."
>Asset forfeiture has become an increasingly
>contentious practice in recent years. It lets
>police seize and keep cash and property from
>people who are never convicted and in many
>cases, never charged with wrongdoing. Recent
>reports have found that the use of the practice
>has exploded in recent years, prompting concern
>that, in some cases, police are motivated more by profits and less by justice.
>Criminal justice reformers are cheering the
>change. "This is a significant deal," said Lee
>McGrath, legislative counsel at the Institute
>for Justice, in an interview. "Local law
>enforcement responds to incentives. And it's
>clear that one of the biggest incentives is the
>relative payout from federal versus state
>forfeiture. And this announcement by the DOJ
>changes the playing field for which law state
>and local [law enforcement] is going to prefer."
>Previous research by the Institute for Justice
>has shown that when states have stricter
>forfeiture laws, cops are more likely to pursue
>forfeiture cases under federal law as a means of
>bypassing those stricter state restrictions.
>In California, for instance, police are allowed
>to keep 66.25 percent of forfeiture proceeds
>under state law, but 80 percent if they opt for
>the federal equitable sharing route. And
>forfeiture figures reflect this: In 2013,
>California police forfeited $28 million worth of
>cash and property under state law, but $98
>million under federal law, according to the Institute for Justice's research.
>It's unclear how much of the total national
>forfeiture haul will be affected by the DOJ's
>change, since many states don't make their
>forfeiture data public. But as the case of
>California shows, it is potentially significant:
>In that state in 2013, nearly eight out of every
>10 dollars of forfeited property went through
>federal law. Under this change, that flow of cash would be shut off.
>Some law enforcement groups are less than happy
>with the change. The International Association
>of Chiefs of Police (IACP) said in a statement
>that "this decision is detrimental to state,
>local, and tribal law enforcement agencies and the communities they serve."
>In a letter sent to President Obama, the leaders
>of Congress, and Attorney General Loretta Lynch,
>the heads of six law enforcement groups --
>including the IACP and the National District
>Attorney's Association -- wrote to express
>"profound concern" over the changes: "This
>shortsighted decision by Congress will have a
>significant and immediate impact on the ability
>of law enforcement agencies throughout the
>nation to protect their communities and provide
>their citizens with the services they expect and deserve."
>The National Sheriff's Association was even more
>critical. "While Congress and the President
>vacation in peace and tranquility, law
>enforcement knows all too well that the
>criminals, terrorists, and criminal aliens do
>not take a holiday," the group wrote in a
>statement. "Those seeking to do us harm can rest
>easier knowing one less tool can be used against them."
>But reformers point out that the change doesn't
>impact law enforcement's ability to seize goods
>from suspected criminals -- it only changes
>their legal options for keeping what they take.
>The change "does not stop police and prosecutors
>from chasing criminals," McGrath said in a
>statement. "[Police] are frustrated because
>Congress put on hold their chasing cash."
>Regardless, the change may not be permanent. In
>its letter, the DOJ hints that it may be able to
>restart payments later: "By deferring equitable
>sharing payments now, we preserve our ability to
>resume equitable sharing payments at a later
>date should the budget picture improve." The DOJ
>hopes to "reinstate sharing distribut
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