For decades now, federal government and their cohorts in law enforcement have been carrying out theft of the citizenry on a massive scale. We’re not talking about taxes, but an insidious power known as Civil Asset Forfeiture (CAF).
The 1980’s-era laws were designed to drain resources from powerful criminal organizations, but CAF has become a tool for law enforcement agencies across the U.S. to steal money and property from countless innocent people.
No criminal charge is required for this confiscation, resulting in easy inflows of cash for law enforcement departments and the proliferation of abuse. This phenomenon is known as “policing for profit.”
In the last 30 years, the amount of "profit" stolen through CAF has skyrocketted.
According to the US Department of Justice, the value of asset forfeiture recoveries by US authorities from 1989-2010 was $12,667,612,066, increasing on average 19.5% per year.
In 2008, law enforcement took over $1.5 billion from the American public. While this number seems incredibly large, just a few years later, in 2014, that number tripled to nearly $4.5 billion.
When we examine these numbers, and their nearly exponential growth curve, it appears that police in America are getting really good at separating the citizen from their property — not just really good, criminally good.
To put this number into perspective, according to the FBI, victims of burglary offenses suffered an estimated $3.9 billion in property losses in 2014.
That means that law enforcement in America, in 2014, stole $600,000,000 more from Americans than actual criminal burglars.
When police surpass the criminal accomplishments of those they claim to protect you from, there is a serious problem. We've seen horrible instances of criminal cops using this legal doctrine to rob everyone from grandmas to musicians, and in fact, we have even reported on cops stealing tens of thousands of dollars from an orphanage and a church. Seriously.
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As TFTP reported at the time, to "keep society safe," sheriff's deputies in Muskogee County, Oklahoma robbed a church and an orphanage of $53,000. Real American heroes.
The good news is that Americans have been waking up to this Orwellian notion of police robbing the citizens, and they are taking a stand. Even politicians have spoken out against this practice of robbing the innocent.
In 2018, a lawsuit forced the city of Philadelphia to abolish their CAF program and pay back millions it stole from its victims. This was just one city, however, which is why this week, Rep. Justin Amash (L-Mich.) introduced the Civil Asset Forfeiture Elimination Act to repeal civil asset forfeiture nationwide.
In a press release put out by Amash's office, the Congressman explained the need for such a bill.
Federal, state, and local law enforcement use civil asset forfeiture to take billions of dollars in cash and property from private citizens each year without convicting the owners of any crime. Instead, the government brings a civil action against the property itself, alleging that the property is “guilty” of being connected to criminal activity. This allows the government to take property without needing to charge the owner with a crime, prove their guilt, or otherwise afford them all the rights of a criminal defendant. Often, the government gains ownership of such property automatically unless the owner files a claim for it within a short period of time. And when an innocent owner does file a claim, many jurisdictions put the burden of proof on the owner to prove their innocence, rather than requiring the government to prove their guilt.
By failing to protect property owners’ constitutionally secured rights, civil forfeiture often leads to forfeitures of property belonging to innocent people. In many cases, the property owner is not even accused of being involved in a crime; it suffices that their property was used by someone else who is alleged to have committed a crime.
Civil asset forfeiture is incompatible with due process, but the courts have failed to recognize that fact. The Civil Asset Forfeiture Elimination Act cures this historical error and restores Americans’ rights by eliminating civil asset forfeiture at the state and federal level.
“Civil asset forfeiture is a due process violation, and it always has been,” said Amash. “Its history is riddled with injustices not because it’s a valid practice that gets misused, but because its central premise—denying people their procedural rights—is inherently flawed. By ending it, my bill helps fulfill Congress’s obligation to stop rights violations at both the state and federal level, and it ends a practice that contributes to the frayed relationship between law enforcement and the public.”
Included in the text of the bill is a clause which allows citizens who have not been convicted of a crime to have their property returned to them. It also eliminates all forms of civil asset forfeiture.
‘‘No person shall be required, under the laws of the United States, to forfeit to the United States any property, real or personal, pursuant to a civil forfeiture proceeding, including a nonjudicial civil forfeiture proceeding," the bill states.
Though this bill is nothing short of revolutionary, any lawmaker who opposes it exposes themselves as a thieving, due-process removing, tyrant. Thank you Justin Amash for fighting the good fight. It will be a sad day in the liberty movement when you leave Congress next session.