Civil Asset Forfeiture

Despite Holder's Forfeiture Reform, Cops Still Have a License To Steal

How the press exaggerated the attorney general's policy shift



Last week Attorney General Eric Holder announced a policy change that has been widely misinterpreted as dramatically reducing, or even eliminating, the police practice of confiscating property without accusing its owner of a crime. In my latest Forbes column, I explain what Holder actually did and how the press got it wrong. Here is how the column starts:

Contrary to what you may have read recently, Attorney General Eric Holder did not put an end to civil forfeiture, a form of legalized theft in which the government takes property allegedly linked to crime without even charging the owner, let alone convicting him. Nor did Holder stop civil forfeiture by the federal government or by the Justice Department. He did not even eliminate the Justice Department's Equitable Sharing Program, which lets police dodge state limits on forfeiture. Instead Holder restricted part of that program: "adoption," where a state or local law enforcement agency seizes an asset and then asks the Justice Department to pursue forfeiture under federal law. Holder's reform was a step in the right direction, but not nearly as big a step as much of the press coverage implied.

Read the whole thing.

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  1. my neighbor’s ex-wife makes $62 every hour on the computer . She has been out of work for five months but last month her paycheck was $18411 just working on the computer for a few hours. try this site……..

    1. And then she had it civilly forfeit for spam, right?

  2. HOLDER: Today I am issuing an order to reform the federal civil-asset forfeiture program…

    MSM REPORTERS: Yay, the Obama administration is ending civil-forfeiture abuses! [the reporters rush to the bars to drink craft beers and file their reports]

    HOLDER: Of course, there are a few exceptions…oh, well, you’re not listening anyway, gosh, that’s too bad.

  3. Thanks for explaining this Jacob. In some ways this reform almost makes things worse because it allows the media to pretend the issue has been solved and go back to ignoring it again. A sham solution, even if it represents some improvement over the status quo, can be worse than doing nothing if it forecloses the possibility of a real solution.

    The question is are the journalists who reported this as an actual reform trying to protect forfeiture or just too stupid to understand what is going on and only capable of rewriting the talking points the powers that be give to them?

    1. I vote for “too stupid to understand.”

      Plus, now they have their names on the administration’s narrative, and can’t really admit to being played for fools.


      1. I meant that as a rhetorical question. I think it is almost certain they are too stupid and lazy to understand what is happening.

    2. I’m going with whatever explanation takes into account the stupidity of the average reporter.

      Nowadays, unless a reporter has established his/her credibility in covering a given beat, or has given evidence of their intelligence, I’m going to assume he/she is as dumb as a box of rocks.

      1. ^This^

        It sometimes help to re-enforce the point of just how stupid the average reporter is by going out and reading an MSM article about a topic that you’re very familiar and knowledgable about and looking at all the mistakes and incorrect statements it contains, and then realizing that the same thing applies to stories that deal with topics you’re not familar with.

        I do this from time to time with space and aeronautics related stories. Even the people who write for or other outlets that specialize in those topics get half their facts wrong.

  4. Haven’t we already been over this a few times? Starting with the fact that no one here bought into it in the first place?

    1. It took the commentariat about 5 minutes to figure out that the exceptions were going to consume the rule, sure.

  5. But I worry that the widespread confusion about what Holder did will undermine reform efforts by creating the false impression that the problem has been solved.

    Feature, not bug. This is Statist Asshat 101: tinker around the edges of a problem without really fixing anything, let the sycophants in the press heap praise on you and declare that the problem is solved, all the while (mostly) continueing with business as usual.

    1. Exactly. It is hand in hand with having a controlled opposition.

  6. my roomate’s aunt makes $82 /hour on the laptop . She has been fired from work for eight months but last month her income was $21833 just working on the laptop for a few hours. view it……

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