Recently Trump invited some members of the National Sheriffs Association to the White House to listen to their concerns. (See transcript here, the video down below.) That was a nice gesture, but unfortunately one of their concerns was the pressure on them to ease up on civil asset forfeiture. In their minds it robs them of a powerful tool in fighting drug dealers — they don’t understand the way it has been abused. The discussion about asset forfeiture starts at 21:32. (Click here for the transcript of just this part of the meeting.)
The part that bothers me the most is
PARTICIPANT: Mr. President, on asset forfeiture, we got a state senator in Texas who was talking about introducing legislation to require conviction before we can receive their forfeiture.
THE PRESIDENT: Can you believe that?
PARTICIPANT: And I told him that the cartel would build a monument to him in Mexico if he could get that legislation.
THE PRESIDENT: Who is the state senator? Want to give his name? We’ll destroy his career.
(Laughter.) Okay, thank you.
That part starts at 26:50 in the video.
As I wrote in a post on the subject in June, 2015, Andy and I were pleased to learn it’s illegal in New Mexico. It was originally designed to cripple large-scale criminal enterprises by seizing their resources, but it
allows police to seize — and then keep or sell — any property they allege is involved in a crime. Owners need not ever be arrested or convicted of a crime for their cash, cars, or even real estate to be taken away permanently by the government.
–The American Civil Liberties Union
If innocent people want to get their property back they need to sue, a long and expensive process. Otherwise the police get to keep part or all of the assets, which gives them a huge incentive to use this technique.
In my previous post I included this video of John Oliver discussing some of the abuses of the system.
Unfortunately it looks as if attempts to stop the abuses will be even harder now.