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Justice Department Restarts Police Program For Keeping Seized Assets

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By Joe Crowe   |   Tuesday, 29 Mar 2016 01:48 PM

The U.S. Justice Department is resuming a program that allows local police departments to earn money from assets they have seized, reports the Washington Post

The Equitable Sharing Program allows local police to use federal law instead of state law for seizing items, which allows them to keep up to 80 percent of the seized assets.

The Justice Department had dropped the program due to budget cuts. Spokesman Peter Carr said "financial solvency has improved," so the department is bringing the program back.

Asset forfeiture stirs controversy because in some cases, the items are taken from citizens who are never convicted, and sometimes never charged, with wrongdoing.

The Washington Post found in 2014 that up to $2.5 billion in assets had been seized with no warrants or charges.

Asset forfeiture is on the rise. More than $5 billion was seized in 2014, which the Washington Post said was more than burglars took in that year.

"This really was about funding, not a genuine concern for the rampant abuses inherent in the system," said Scott Bullock, president of the Institute for Justice.

Getting property back that has been seized is "notoriously difficult and expensive," said the American Civil Liberties Union, "with costs sometimes exceeding the value of the property."

Law enforcement groups objected when the program was suspended. Now they applaud its return.

"All our local and federal politicians recognized how important this was to us," said Nashua, NH police chief Andrew Lavoie to the Valley News

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The U.S. Justice Department is resuming a program that allows local police departments to earn money from assets they have seized, reports the Washington Post.
doj, justice department, police, seized, assets, property
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