Jeff Sessions announces Justice Department will increase asset forfeiture

Jeff Sessions announces Justice Department will increase asset forfeiture

Jeff Sessions announces Justice Department will increase asset forfeiture

That money was turned over to the DEA, which is entitled to keep $21.40 of it, with the remaining $85.60 to be returned to Kanakee police. The equitable sharing program distributes hundreds of millions of dollars a year to police departments around the country.

Sessions' order makes clear that the goal of reimplementing federal adoption is not to "affect the ability of state and local agencies to pursue the forfeiture of assets pursuant to their respective state laws, but instead makes another tool available to our state and local partners".

As a Senator, Sessions opposed Eric Holder's reform, calling it a "huge detriment" to local law enforcement.

Concerns about civil asset forfeiture are based on the somewhat peculiar nature of the practice, which permits law enforcement to bring charges against and seize property, independent of any conviction of or even charge against its owner.

Under federal guidelines, the state and local agencies making adoptive seizures are entitled up to 80 percent of the proceeds, while federal agencies would receive at least a 20 percent cut.

"Funds being used to take lives are now being used to save lives", Sessions said in an announcement Wednesday. Even more importantly, it helps return property to the victims of crime. We talked about civil forfeiture with attorney Paul Avalar of the Institute for Justice.

Sessions' support for asset forfeiture is in keeping with his tough-on-crime agenda and aligns with his oft-stated view that the Justice Department's top priority should be helping local law enforcement fight violent crime. A particularly egregious example was the 2015 seizure of $16,000 in cash from a 22-year-old black man by Drug Enforcement Administration officials, based on an evidence-less suspicion that the money was sourced from drug dealing.

Even the safeguard that Alban considered the strongest, one that puts in place requirements for federal agencies to check off before they can adopt less than $10,000, can be circumvented as long as "the U.S. Attorney's Office first concurs".

Further, to better protect claimants, the Department will expedite the review of civil asset forfeiture cases.

In addition to these safeguards on federal adoptions, I am asking Department attorneys to proceed with an abundance of caution when handling all forfeitures involving vehicles and especially residences. Justice Sonia Sotomayor wrote an opinion for a unanimous Court curtailing asset forfeiture in conspiracy prosecutions in June, while Justice Clarence Thomas expressed deep skepticism at the continued legality of forfeiture in a March statement respecting the Court's denial of an appeal in a case called Leonard v. Texas. "With this new policy, the American people can be confident knowing we are following the law and taking action to defund criminals and at the same time protecting the rights of law-abiding people".

Attorney General Jeff Sessions on Wednesday issued a new order allowing the federal law enforcement agencies to take control of property state and local law enforcement seize from suspected criminals, whether or not they are ever found guilty of a crime.

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