[Rushtalk] Sheriffs, DA's, state cops hate it that one of their gravy trains has been shut down

Stephen A. Frye s.frye at verizon.net
Tue Jan 12 18:08:37 MST 2016

Agreed.  Thievery.  Seems to sort of sidestep that due process thing.  And
the police LOVE it.


From: rushtalk-bounces at csdco.com [mailto:rushtalk-bounces at csdco.com] On
Behalf Of John A. Quayle
Sent: Tuesday, January 12, 2016 2:04 PM
To: Rushtalk Discussion List; Rushtalk
Subject: Re: [Rushtalk] Sheriffs, DA's, state cops hate it that one of their
gravy trains has been shut down


At 11:33 AM 1/12/2016, Carl Spitzer wrote:

  http://readersupportednews. org/news-section2/318-66/
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

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

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

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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