How Civil Forfeiture Can Enable Public Officials’ Misuse of Funds

fascinating story at Reason last week—about the misuse of money confiscated through civil forfeiture—illuminates the many kinds of corruption that the practice of forfeiture invites. The story breaks down a report from state auditors that shows how public officials in Georgia illegally spent millions of dollars.

Civil forfeiture is the ultimate result of a peculiar practice that law enforcement officials now participate in more and more often. Under civil forfeiture laws, police can take anyone’s property if they suspect it is related to crime—for example, trafficking in drugs or prostitution—without ever proving that a crime took place or filing criminal charges against anyone.