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Attorney General Holder Announces Biggest Asset Forfeiture Program Reform in Years

January 16, 2015

By Phillip Smith : AlterNet – excerpt

Holder barred federal agencies from “adopting” seizures made by state and local cops, greatly reducing incentives for police to look for cash to seize

Attorney General Eric Holder this morning issued an order that will bar federal agencies from participating in “adoptions” of assets seized by state and local law enforcement agencies. “Adoptions” occur when state or local law enforcement agencies seize cash or properties under state laws, but then ask that a federal agency takes the seized property and forfeit it under federal law.

State and local law enforcement agencies routinely resort to “adoption” as a means of circumventing state laws that mandate seized assets go to designated programs, typically a state’s general fund or education fund. When a seizure is “adopted” by the feds, the seizing agency gets to keep 80% of the proceeds, with the federal government getting the rest.

“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,” Holder said in a Friday statement. “This is the first step in a comprehensive review that we have launched of the federal asset forfeiture program.  Asset forfeiture remains a critical law enforcement tool when used appropriately – providing unique means to go after criminal and even terrorist organizations.  This new policy will ensure that these authorities can continue to be used to take the profit out of crime and return assets to victims, while safeguarding civil liberties.”… (more)

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