Attorney General Jeff Sessions recently reinstituted a program at the Department of Justice to help the police steal from Americans without first charging them with a crime.
Here’s what the Attorney General is now putting forth and there does seem to be a problem here:
The “Equitable Sharing Program” gives police the option of prosecuting some asset forfeiture cases under federal instead of state law, particularly in instances where local law enforcement officers have a relationship with federal authorities as part of a joint task force. Federal forfeiture policies are more permissive than many state policies, allowing police to keep up to 80 percent of assets they seize.
That “more permissive” part is what makes this program so insidious – as if regular civil asset forfeiture was ever legitimate. One of the many policy metastases of our drug war, civil asset forfeiture allows police to seize cash or other property, including cars and houses, they think may be used for criminal behavior. This typically takes the form of a cop taking a roll of cash from someone on the side of the highway. They can then hire a lawyer to fight for what’s theirs.
Fortunately, many states have dialed back the practice, making police show a real nexus to criminal behavior, or even eliminated civil forfeiture altogether. Now let’s say a police officer in one of these many states with decreased civil forfeitures still wants to confiscate property. Thanks to the Equitable Sharing Program, a federal agency can come in and effectively nullify the state restriction.
The feds use the state and local police to identify the best targets and property to seize and take the property federally. Then they turn around and “share” it with the state or local authorities. This process undermines the state and local control over police inherent in their proper and just use and oversight.
President Trump said on Wednesday that he never would have appointed Attorney General Jeff Sessions had he known Mr. Sessions would recuse himself from overseeing the Russia investigation that has dogged his presidency, calling the decision “very unfair to the president.”
That was the big quote this week from Trump on Sessions. From The New York Times, who published audio of their interview with Trump.
Sessions should not be dismissed or dissed for doing the right thing and recusing himself. His multiple and active attempts to undermine the liberty of Americans, however, should earn him a stern rebuke from the president, if not dismissal.