Trump may be failing in his attempts to give 21 million lucky duckies the sweet freedom of no health insurance, but at least he’s giving more people the glorious liberty to be arbitrarily stripped of their property:
In America, it is legal in most states for police to take and keep your stuff without ever convicting you for a crime. Now, Attorney General Jeff Sessions apparently wants to let police do this even more often.
Most states and federal law already allow what’s called “civil asset forfeiture.” This lets police seize someone’s property without proving the person was guilty of a crime; they just need probable cause to believe the assets were used or obtained in some kind of criminal activity, typically drug trafficking.
Police can then absorb the value of the property — be it cash, cars, guns, or something else — as profit, either through state programs or under a federal program known as equitable sharing, which lets local and state police get up to 80 percent of the value of what they seize as money for their departments. For police departments, this can end up a fairly profitable venture.
On Wednesday, Sessions signed an order to encourage law enforcement to use civil asset forfeiture more often, rescinding previous orders by President Barack Obama’s administration limiting the practice. The order includes some supposed safeguards, which ask law enforcement to be careful, make sure there is sufficient evidence of a crime, and more thoroughly document the evidence and probable cause justification.
“[W]e hope to issue this week a new directive on asset forfeiture — especially for drug traffickers,” Sessions said on Monday, hinting at the forthcoming order. “With care and professionalism, we plan to develop policies to increase forfeitures. No criminal should be allowed to keep the proceeds of their crime. Adoptive forfeitures are appropriate as is sharing with our partners.”
And before you give Republicans spurious credit for being part of a “bipartisan opposition” to this while doing nothing about it, remember that 1)Sessions is what he’s always obviously been, and 2)the Senate voted to confirm him.