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News Link • Forfeiture & Seizure

Forget Russia. I'd fire Jeff Sessions over civil forfeiture.

• usatoday.com by Glenn Harlan Reynolds

Attorney General Jeff Sessions wants to steal from you.

Oh, he doesn't call it that. He calls it "civil forfeiture." But what it is, is theft by law enforcement. Sessions should be ashamed. If I were president, he'd be fired.

Under "civil forfeiture," law enforcement can take property from people under the legal fiction that the property itself is guilty of a crime. ("Legal fiction" sounds better than "lie," but in this case the two terms are near synonyms.) It was originally sold as a tool for going after the assets of drug kingpins, but nowadays it seems to be used against a lot of ordinary Americans who just have things that law enforcement wants. It's also a way for law enforcement agencies to maintain off-budget slush funds, thus escaping scrutiny.

How police steal from citizens

As Drug Enforcement Agency agent Sean Waite told the Albuquerque Journal, "We don't have to prove that the person is guilty. … It's that the money is presumed to be guilty."


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