Seizing cash, cars, homes and other goods from people who are never charged with crimes has become a billion-dollar enterprise for police departments and government agencies, says the author of an investigative series on the practice, which has skyrocketed during the Obama years.
The $2.5 billion in cash alone that state and local police have confiscated since 2001 without filing charges is “probably a floor,” reporter Christopher Ingraham of The Washington Post told “MidPoint” host Ed Berliner on Newsmax TV Tuesday.
“If you tally it all up, if you look at federal agency seizures, if you look at various Justice Department seizures, the number is easily, I believe … approaching in the billions per year,” Ingraham said in a joint discussion of so-called “civil asset forfeiture” with New York lawyer and legal analyst Adam Thompson.
“How do they get away with it?” said Ingraham. “It’s perfectly legal.
“It’s called civil asset forfeiture,” he said, “and basically under civil law, what we commonly think of as our justice system is turned on its head: Under civil asset forfeiture, your items, your cash, and your possessions are presumed guilty until you prove them otherwise.”
Ingraham detailed the practice and the life-altering effects on people hit with forfeitures in a Post series last September entitled, “Stop and seize.”
In a related article published last week, he cited the case of a Detroit man who had all his savings — $16,000 in cash — seized by the DEA as he traveled west in hopes of launching a music video production company.
Whatever the original intent or reasoning behind civil asset forfeiture, lawyer Thompson said he does not understand how it can possibly be considered legitimate in a system founded on the presumption of innocence.
Seizures can be contested, but many people who lose their assets never get them back, despite never being charged criminally, because they don’t know the law or don’t have the resources to hire legal help, said Thompson.
Thompson said it’s up to Congress to do the rest and pass a law mandating that criminal charges precede any application for civil asset forfeiture.
“A citizen’s rights shouldn’t go out the window on a whim,” he said.
Ingraham said people are reacting to his findings with surprise.
Read more at: http://www.newsmax.com/Newsmax-Tv/Christopher-Ingraham-Adam-Thomspon-civil-asset-forfeiture-police/2015/05/19/id/645574/#ixzz3aoKJjsyA