Taegan Goddard's Wonk Wire.)
In an effort to try to win the drug war, Congress gave police the power to seize the assets that were gained from illegal activities. Unfortunately, the police are misusing that power (which they should never have had in the first place). I have no problem with them seizing the assets of those convicted of drug trafficking, but most of the time now the police are seizing money without convicting the person of any crime at all. And to get the money back is a very difficult thing. The person must prove they did not get the money from any illegal activity, while the police don't have to prove anything.
And the police seizures have grown steadily each year (see chart), and in 2014 those seizures added up to significantly more money than all of the value of items taken in every burglary in the country. In other words, the police stole more money than all of the burglars combined -- with the burglars taking $3.9 billion and the police seizing $4.5 billion. That makes the police the biggest gang of thieves in America.
Is this really what we want? Do we want police to have the ability to take anyone's money -- without even charging them, let alone convicting them of any kind of crime? Giving police this enormous power to seize money (and property) may have sounded like a good idea years ago, but that power is being misused -- and it's time to do away with it.
One might think the federal government would see this and do something about it, but that is unlikely. Federal police are also seizing money and property, and the federal government gets a cut out of the money seized by local and state police. Sadly, both the federal and local governments now see this as another opportunity to fund their activities, and not truly an effort to fight crime. It is theft by government, using the police as their henchmen -- and it needs to be stopped.