Tags: Rand Paul | Rand Paul | stop | police | asset | seized | innocent

Rand Paul Restarts Fight to Ban Most Federal Asset Seizures

By    |   Wednesday, 28 Jan 2015 06:46 PM

The federal government would be stripped of its power to seize cash and property from people not charged with a crime under a bill that Sen. Rand Paul reintroduced on Tuesday after the legislation went nowhere in 2014, according to reports.

While the Obama Justice Department is scaling back the controversial use of asset forfeitures, "Paul’s legislation goes further, stripping federal officials of much of the authority they have to seize and forfeit property," The Hill reports.

Paul's Fifth Amendment Integrity Restoration (FAIR) Act would require the federal government to prove that private property confiscated — and often sold — in criminal investigations had been knowingly used by its owners for illegal activity.

"The federal government has made it far too easy for government agencies to take and profit from the property of those who have not been convicted of a crime," Paul, a Kentucky Republican, said in a statement.

The Justice Department Assets Forfeiture Fund has soared in value since it was established in 1984. It first surpassed $1 billion in assets in 2007, according to a report by the Institute for Justice, a non-profit legal group currently suing Philadelphia to halt that city's forfeiture program.

In 2014, the fund took in almost $4.5 billion in property and cash from states, U.S. territories and the District of Columbia, according to Justice Department numbers.

One offshoot, the Equitable Sharing Program, has become a windfall — and a big part of annual budgets — for local law enforcement agencies that share in the proceeds, even as critics label it a police equipment "slush fund."

Paul, considered a likely 2016 presidential candidates, is a persistent critic of asset forfeiture as a policing tool and is proposing other far-reaching reforms to the criminal justice system.

"The FAIR Act will ensure that government agencies no longer profit from taking the property of U.S. citizens without due process, while maintaining the ability of courts to order the surrender of proceeds of crime," Paul's statement read.

The revived FAIR Act has Senators Mike Lee, Utah Republican, and Angus King, Maine Independent, as co-sponsors. Rep. Tim Walberg, Michigan Republican, introduced companion legislation in the House.

A senior lawyer at the Institute for Justice told The Washington Free Beacon that the bill would "go a long way toward stopping the perverse practice of policing for profit, where for the past 30 years federal law enforcement officials have been able to keep for their own use the property they seize and forfeit from Americans."

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The federal government would be stripped of its power to seize cash and property from people not charged with a crime under a bill that Sen. Rand Paul reintroduced on Tuesday after the legislation went nowhere in 2014, according to reports. While the Obama Justice...
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Wednesday, 28 Jan 2015 06:46 PM
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