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Jeff Sessions Endorses Theft
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Attorney General Jeff Sessions recently ordered the Justice Department to increase the use of civil asset forfeiture, thus once again endorsing an unconstitutional, authoritarian, and increasingly unpopular policy.

Civil asset forfeiture, which should be called civil asset theft, is the practice of seizing property believed to be involved in a crime. The government keeps the property even if it never convicts, or even charges, the owner of the property.

Police can even use civil asset theft to steal from people whose property was used in criminal activity without the owners’ knowledge. Some have even lost their homes because a renter or houseguest was dealing drugs on the premises behind the owners’ backs.

Civil asset theft is a multi-billion dollar a year moneymaker for all levels of government. Police and prosecutors receive more than their “fair share” of the loot. According to a 2016 study by the Institute for Justice, 43 states allow police and prosecutors to keep at least half of the loot they got from civil asset theft.

Obviously, this gives police an incentive to aggressively use civil asset theft, even against those who are not even tangentially involved in a crime. For example, police in Tenaha, Texas literally engaged in highway robbery — seizing cash and other items from innocent motorists — while police in Detroit once seized every car in an art institute’s parking lot. The official justification for that seizure was that the cars belonged to attendees at an event for which the institute had failed to get a liquor license.

The Tenaha police are not the only ones targeting those carrying large sums of cash. Anyone traveling with “too much” cash runs the risk of having it stolen by a police officer, since carrying large amounts of cash is treated as evidence of involvement in criminal activity.

Civil asset theft also provides an easy way for the IRS to squeeze more money from the American taxpayer. As the growing federal debt increases the pressure to increase tax collections without raising tax rates, the IRS will likely ramp up its use of civil asset forfeiture.

Growing opposition to the legalized theft called civil asset forfeiture has led 24 states to pass laws limiting its use. Sadly, but not surprisingly, Attorney General Jeff Sessions is out of step with this growing consensus. After all, Sessions is a cheerleader for the drug war, and civil asset theft came into common usage as a tool in the drug war.

President Trump could do the American people a favor by naming a new attorney general who opposes police state policies like the drug war and police state tactics like civil asset theft.

(Republished from The Ron Paul Institute by permission of author or representative)
• Category: Ideology • Tags: Civil Liberties, Police State 
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  1. The obvious corruption and the extra-legality of such programs is obvious. It is unfortunate that courts no longer seem to be able to hold the regime accountable in any meaningful way.

  2. Anonymous • Disclaimer says:

    My brother was a prosecuting attorney for decades. His stories suggest our justice system is rotten to the core.

    My brother confided that asset forfeiture filled in the budget deficits for his office and the local police department. He also related that defendants pled guilty in more than 90% of his cases because, as a practical matter, the justice system does not have the resources for trial-by-jury as guaranteed in the Constitution.

    When he could, he used asset forfeiture to avoid trials and force guilty pleas. For example, a man is arrested on drug charges. He is offered a deal: Plead guilty or the prosecutor’s office will seize the family house, throwing the defendant’s family out on the street. Make a choice: a destitute family … or a guilty plea.

    These tactics did not bother my brother. He said he had a special gift … the ability to know when someone was innocent or when he was guilty. He was once counseled by a judge for his overly aggressive prosecution style. Then, his career came to an end when he aggressively prosecuted a prominent fellow attorney on a drug charge. My brother knew he was guilty. The case fell apart when it was uncovered the drugs were planted by a police officer having an affair with the attorney’s wife.

    • Replies: @Kyle McKenna
  3. Civil Asset Forfeiture is the same as “gun crime.”

    Money, or a boat or other property (inanimate objects all) is presumed “guilty” of acting (to commit a crime.) This is sophistry of the worst, most childish or evil sort. Guns don’t shoot people. Money doesn’t buy drugs.

    The state will get its pound of flesh. The ONLY questions of relevance are:
    1. How much?
    2. Who pays?
    3. Who decides?

    An honest system is funded via HONEST and open debate and resolution to these questions. Civil Asset Forfeiture is the epitome of Newspeak, torturing the very meaning of words in order to rationalize what the powerful desire. Civil Asset Forfeiture is nothing but turning the “law enforcement apparatus” into a highwayman robbing people simply because he can.

    Ironically, this is perfectly expected. Social trust grew these past decades (if not centuries) to a pathological level. Nature is cyclical, and so trust must drain from society.

    Turning cops into de facto muggers and politicians (and bureaucrats) into open looters is a perfect case of people VOLUNTEERING to destroy the very basis for their authority.

    Trust is poised to evaporate. That means people will pull inward and the vast labyrinth of economic, social and political systems will collapse of its own accord.

    This is both unfortunate and natural. Nirvana (Utopia) was never an option. I like(d) a lot of our present times. But disposing of the bad without harming the good was never an option. It’s all linked. The future has much chaos already baked in.

    • Replies: @Negrolphin Pool
  4. @Anonymous

    Ahh… Justice. Gotta love it, amirite?

    “The State is the Enemy of the People”

    (Nietzsche, paraphrased)

  5. President Trump could do the American people a favor by naming a new attorney general who opposes police state policies like the drug war and police state tactics like civil asset theft.

    Definitely dispiriting to know these things about Mr Sessions, and there are several more just as dismaying. But virtually anyone who replaces him will be ‘careless’ shall we say on the immigration issue, and if the immigration issue isn’t managed, yesterday, nothing else–even this–matters. It’s right down the sewer for all of us.

  6. Surprised Ron Paul is attacking Jeff Sessions like this. I guess it shows his principles to go after anyone if they’re violating our liberties?

    • Replies: @jtgw
  7. jtgw says:

    Why are you surprised? I can’t remember ever seeing RP say something favorable about Sessions.

  8. @dc.sunsets

    I live in a shitty neighborhood with lots of welfare people and felons. That group’s actually not so bad.

    But I stopped saying hi to random neighbors a long time ago. It was leading to too many physical confrontations and near misses. This place would be the Superdome if Katrina even winked at it.

    There’s no social trust here.

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