Civil asset forfeiture: Unfair, undemocratic, and un-American

While federal forfeitures totaled $93.7 million in 1986, this revenue grew by more than 4,600% – to $4.5 billion a year – by 2014. Forfeitures handled by states have also poured millions, perhaps billions, of dollars into law enforcement agencies. As a result, there has been a massive transfer of wealth and assets from American citizens – and especially the most economically vulnerable – to police, who can largely use the funds however they see fit. Many states do not even require local agencies to track or report seized property. Though proponents of civil asset forfeiture claim that its revenue helps to fund more effective policing, evidence shows it has little impact on efforts to stop crime. Instead, it perverts the incentives of law enforcement, encouraging agencies to pursue strategies that maximize profit rather than ensure public safety.