But a system that proved successful at wringing profits from drug cartels and white-collar fraudsters has also given rise to corruption and violations of civil liberties. Over the past year, I spoke with more than a hundred police officers, defense attorneys, prosecutors, judges, and forfeiture plaintiffs from across the country. Many expressed concern that state laws designed to go after high-flying crime lords are routinely targeting the workaday homes, cars, cash savings, and other belongings of innocent people who are never charged with a crime.
This pathetic use of the law amounts to little more than legalized theft. If a private citizen were to do something like this, he or she would go to jail.
Civil forfeiture in the case of a convicted criminal is one thing; stealing from innocent people to fund your police department is quite another.
And quite despicable.