President Trump’s Attorney General, Jeff Sessions, recently announced that he would be putting forth a policy to assist local and state police confiscate property from individuals merely suspected of a crime, without convictions or warrants issued.
This announcement reverses one of the few good policies from the Obama administration that restricted Civil Asset Forfeiture due to documented cases of abuse by law enforcement personnel.
According to Deputy Attorney General Rod J. Rosenstein, there are safeguards in place to prevent abuses in the past. That law enforcement must demonstrate probable cause for confiscating the property.
The problem with such a policy is that programs like these give monetary incentive for police to confiscate items and it takes due process out of the equation, as required by the 5th Amendment in the Bill of Rights. No person in these United States should be deprived of their property or liberty unless convicted of a crime.
A Washington Post investigation in 2014 found that state and local police had seized almost $2.5 billion from motorists and others without search warrants or indictments since the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001. The Post series revealed that police routinely stopped drivers for minor traffic infractions, pressed them to agree to searches without warrants and seized large amounts of cash when there was no evidence of wrongdoing. Further, police spent the stolen money with little to no oversight.
Lawmakers from both the Democrat and Republican parties have spoken out against this move, stating that it removes due process from the American people. Libertarians have long stood against CAF, noting that every person has a right to be secure in their possessions, especially when they have not been charged or convicted of a crime.