August 8, 2013
The New Yorker’s Sarah Stillman has a heartbreaking story out on an appalling police tactic — civil forfeiture, which lets local police departments make tons of money from taking supposed criminals’ property.
Civil forfeiture is largely a product of the war on drugs. In 1984, Congress passed an omnibus crime bill that gave local police departments a cut of the assets seized during drug raids and other investigations.
Through civil forfeiture, cops can take property they believe was obtained illicitly before you’re convicted of any wrongdoing in a court of law. The people whose assets have been seized then have to go to court to try to get it back, which may cost more money than the property itself.