Today, Friday, January 16, 2015, the Department of Justice issued a press release announcing that Attorney General Eric Holder has signed an order prohibiting the DOJ from adopting civil assets seized by local and state enforcement agencies.
According to the DOJ, “federally adopted forfeiture – or ‘adoption’ for short – occurs when a state or local law enforcement agency seizes property pursuant to state law and requests that a federal agency take the seized asset and forfeit it under federal law.”
While this action is specific to the DOJ, the press release indicated that the Department of the Treasury will be issuing an order similar to Holder’s that “will apply to all participants of the Treasury forfeiture program.”
Eric Holder just issued a huge blow to the drug war. This is big.
Today the Justice Department barred local and state police from using a federal program to seize a person’s property without evidence of a crime.
That might sound odd, since you would assume that it was already illegal in America for police to take your property without due process – but you would be wrong. Originally pushed in the 1980s as a way to combat illegal drugs, civil asset forfeiture has become common throughout the country.
Today people all over America who are simply suspected of drug law violations can have their assets seized without any ability to defend themselves in a court of law. Even if they are never convicted, or even charged with a crime they can have their property, bank accounts, cars, and assets taken from them forever. If this doesn’t enrage you, I don’t know what will.
Civil asset forfeiture is another ugly aspect of the drug war, and here at the Drug Policy Alliance we are making it a top issue in 2015.
If you stand with us tweet out your support now to end unjust civil asset forfeiture for good!
Today’s actions by Eric Holder are a good first step to ending the unjust enforcement of this program once and for all. But now Congress needs to pass legislation to make this change permanent.
Director, National Affairs
Drug Policy Alliance