The Department of Justice has restored a program that allows it to partner with local law enforcement agencies, seize money and property from raids, and then redistribute the assets back to those police departments.
This program, known as "equitable sharing," incentivizes "policing for profit" by pushing cops to focus on enforcing laws that give them the opportunity to seize assets, rather than laws against crimes that actually harm others. Furthermore, it allows local law enforcement agencies to bypass state-level restrictions on how property may be seized and distributed. The byzantine bureaucratic process that puts property and not a person on trial is designed to make it difficult for those targeted to fight back.
Police often seize assets from people without ever charging—let alone convicting—them with a crime, knowing how hard it will be for citizens to recover their property. Under the Justice Department's guidelines, police can keep up to 80 percent of what they seize.
Payments from the program were suspended in December because the federal omnibus legislation cut hundreds of billions in funding. But in March, Washington Post reporter Christopher Ingraham shared an email from the Justice Department announcing the program's return, "effective immediately."