Law enforcement lobbyists always oppose asset forfeiture reform, generally relying on the claim that seizing people’s stuff serves as a valuable crime-fighting tool. But a recent study conducted by a Seattle University economist for the Institute of Justice casts serious doubts on this claim, and many others touted by supporters of asset forfeiture.
The study found that increased forfeiture proceeds do not translate to an increase in the number of crimes solved despite the claim that they give law enforcement more crime-fighting resources. Nor do forfeiture proceeds correlate to lower the levels of drug use in the community. Furthermore, the study supports the belief that asset forfeiture leads to “policing for profit.” It revealed that forfeitures tend to increase when local economies struggle, suggesting law enforcement agencies use forfeiture money to plug budget holes.