” The seminars offered police officers some useful tips on seizing property from suspected criminals. Don’t bother with jewelry (too hard to dispose of) and computers (“everybody’s got one already”), the experts counseled. Do go after flat screen TVs, cash and cars. Especially nice cars.
In one seminar, captured on video in September, Harry S. Connelly Jr., the city attorney of Las Cruces, N.M., called them “little goodies.” And then Mr. Connelly described how officers in his jurisdiction could not wait to seize one man’s “exotic vehicle” outside a local bar.
“ A guy drives up in a 2008 Mercedes, brand new,” he explained. “Just so beautiful, I mean, the cops were undercover and they were just like ‘Ahhhh.’ And he gets out and he’s just reeking of alcohol. And it’s like, ‘Oh, my goodness, we can hardly wait.’ ”
Mr. Connelly was talking about a practice known as civil asset forfeiture, which allows the government, without ever securing a conviction or even filing a criminal charge, to seize property suspected of having ties to crime. The practice, expanded during the war on drugs in the 1980s, has become a staple of law enforcement agencies because it helps finance their work. It is difficult to tell how much has been seized by state and local law enforcement, but under a Justice Department program, the value of assets seized has ballooned to $4.3 billion in the 2012 fiscal year from $407 million in 2001. Much of that money is shared with local police forces. “
Without even needing to charge someone with a crime, law enforcement can seize and keep cash, cars and even homes, by exercising civil forfeiture. Now the Institute for Justice has uncovered recordings of government officials from across the country making unsettling comments about this controversial power:
• One city attorney called his legal documents a “masterpiece of deception” and has won 96 percent of his forfeiture cases.
• An assistant district attorney takes property, even from owners who have been acquitted, because “people are not found innocent, they are found not guilty.”
• One government official doesn’t want to disclose information about civil forfeiture, because it might become a “bullet-point for people that are trying to fight the program.”
• A prosecutor teaches other attorneys how to take property from innocent people. He even offers this piece of advice, “IF IN DOUBT…TAKE IT!”
Speaking at a forfeiture conference on September 10, 2014, Pete Connelly, City Attorney for Las Cruces, New Mexico, detailed his plan that would let police take the homes of people caught with tiny amounts of marijuana, even in states where the plant is legal:
“ I got to thinking this morning, in the paper that everybody is running around liberalizing marijuana or thinking about it. Putting it on the ballot. Taking it off the ballot. And I thought, boy, what a trap. You liberalize marijuana so somebody can sell it, they sell the marijuana out of the house, then you seize the house, which is like 10 bucks of marijuana and you [the police] get a $300,000 house. What a deal. That’s really exciting. They get what they want, and you get what you want. And the title of that article in the [Wall Street] Journal was ‘What’s Yours Is Theirs.’ I want to turn it around as ‘What’s Theirs is Yours.’” “
Be sure to read them both and funnel your outrage towards your nearest GOP representative . Demand that they eliminate the policy of legalized theft otherwise known as “Civil asset forfeiture” .
Defending the practice of seizing property from American citizens who have not only not been convicted of a crime , but in most cases not even charged , is an impossible task and we would welcome any effort by the incoming congressional Republicans to put their Statist opponents on the other side of the aisle on the spot with a vote to abolish this plainly unconstitutional law .