[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!

>Christopher Ingraham
>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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