Darrell Issa | Serving California's 49th District
Press Releases
May 4, 2016
ICYMI: Rep. Issa Op-ed: Stop Abuse of Civil Forfeiture Program


WASHINGTON, D.C. — Today, Congressman Darrell Issa wrote an op-ed appearing in the Los Angeles Times, outlining the need for Congress to take up civil asset forfeiture reform.

Some of the highlights from the piece are below. You can also check out the full length article here.

“‘We thought America was the best in the world.’ ‘This can’t be happening.’ That’s how Saw Marvellous Soe and Eh Wah described their astonishment after police seized more than $53,000 in cash from … a Christian rock band that played in 19 U.S. cities, raising money from concerts to support an orphanage in Thailand and a Christian college in Burma.”

“Civil asset forfeiture allows police to seize property as long as they believe that the assets in question were somehow connected to criminal activity. ‘As long as they believe’ — that’s the key part. Authorities don’t have to actually prove the person was guilty of a crime. They don’t have to even file charges. The presumption of innocence is thrown to the wayside.”

“Under current law, most states allow police departments to absorb up to 100% of the value of the confiscated property — whether it’s cash, cars, houses or guns — and use the proceeds to pad their budgets. It’s an obvious conflict of interest — and boy, is it profitable for law enforcement agencies…But unless Congress takes action, state efforts to stop civil forfeiture abuse mean very little.”

“In 2014, the latest year for which data is available, police officers took more property from American citizens under civil asset forfeiture ($5 billion) than criminals took in burglaries ($3.5 billion), according to research from the Institute for Justice.”

“As more and more states reconsider their civil forfeiture systems, the federal government needs to set a framework for smart reform. That starts with closing the equitable-sharing loophole, and requiring police to satisfy a higher burden of proof to a judge before seizing property under federal law.”

The full length piece from The Los Angeles Times is available here.

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