A new report from a national civil liberties non-profit released Tuesday found an increase in police seizing private property, in many cases from people who weren’t ever charged with a crime.
The study, “Policing for Profit,” which was conducted by the Institute for Justice, faults state and federal civil asset forfeiture laws for what the group calls a strong financial incentive to take a person’s property and boost that agency’s budget.
Police seize hundreds of millions of dollars in cash, cars homes and other assets each year and the federal government was the worst offender, receiving a D- for its forfeiture laws.
The Department of Justice seized $4.5 billion in 2014 and took $29 billion in just 14 years under its Assets Forfeiture Fund, established in 1984.
Over the years, there’s been a sharp upward trend in the total value of assets taken, which the DOJ attributes to big cases like Bernie Madoff’s $1.7 billion judgement and a $1.2 billion Toyota case, the Washington Post reported.
Report co-author Dick Carpenter told the Post that a possible reason for the rise in forfeitures was that the period between 2008 and 2014 accounted for some “lean economic years.”
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