The Washington Posts reports that Attorney General Eric Holder is barring local and state police from using federal law to seize cash, cars and other property without proof that a crime occurred. The Post’s Robert O’Harrow Jr. explains the most sweeping check on police power to confiscate personal property since the seizures began three decades ago.

I wrote an article on this very subject called Policing for Profit not long after David Hooks was killed in a botched drug raid that was likely only done under the pretext to seize his assets.

This is both fantastic and long overdue news. Holder will bar local police from using Federal laws to seize assets like cash, cars, and other property. Often when assets are seized and the person is found innocent or no charges are ever filed it is a nightmare if not nearly impossible to ever recover your seized property. If it was cash you can just about forget about it altogether because if they seized $2,000 they can claim it was $20 and it is your word against theirs.

The Washington Posts reports “Since 2008, thousands of local and state police agencies have made more than 55,000 seizures of cash and property worth $3 billion under a civil asset forfeiture program at the Justice Department called Equitable Sharing. The program has enabled local and state police to make seizures and then have them “adopted” by federal agencies, which share in the proceeds. It allowed police departments and drug task forces to keep up to 80 percent of the proceeds of adopted seizures, with the rest going to federal agencies.”

The bad news, and isn’t there always some bad news, is that the police can continue to use their state and local laws to seize property. The decision follows a Washington Post investigation published in September that found that police have made cash seizures worth almost $2.5 billion from motorists and others without search warrants or indictments since the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.

If you have a few spare minutes I encourage you to watch this special investigation on how police have abused this law and in essence have become highway robbers not unlike the Sheriff of Nottingham. Where is our Robin Hood?


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