Policy Forum

Policing for Profit: The Abuse of Civil Asset Forfeiture

April 28, 2010 12:00 PM to 2:00 PM EDT


Featuring Scott Bullock, Senior Attorney, Institute for Justice; and Marian R. Williams, Department of Government and Justice Studies, Appalachian State University; with comments by Scott Burns, Executive Director, National District Attorneys Association. Moderated by Tim Lynch, Director, Project on Criminal Justice, Cato Institute.

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Under state and federal law, police departments can seize and keep property that is suspected of involvement in criminal activity. Unlike criminal asset forfeiture, however, with civil forfeiture, a property owner need not be found guilty of a crime—or even charged—to permanently lose her cash, car, home, or other property. And according to a new report published by the Institute for Justice, “Policing for Profit: The Abuse of Civil Asset Forfeiture,” most state laws are written in such a way as to encourage police agents to pursue profit instead of seeking the neutral administration of justice. The report grades each state and the federal government on its forfeiture laws and other measures of abuse. The results are appalling: Six states earned an F and 29 states and the federal government received a grade of D. Please join us for a discussion of policing, constitutional rights, and government accountability.

• Daily Podcast: Scott Bullock: Policing for Profit

• When the Looter Is the Government, by George Will, Washington Post

• Forfeiting Our Property Rights: Is Your Property Safe from Seizure? by Rep. Henry Hyde