Civil asset forfeiture, the practice of seizing a criminal’s private property, goes far and beyond enforcing justice, argues Adam Liptak of The New York Times. One issue with this practice is that limited oversight incentivizes police departments to use it more than may be necessary, as they are able to keep whatever is seized. It is often the poor who suffer from overreaches. In fall, the Supreme Court will oversee the case of a man caught dealing drugs, whose $42,000 Land Rover was seized, when the maximum fine for his actions is $10,000. His fees, which he paid, amounted to $1,200. Civil asset forfeiture needs better boundaries.
Civil asset forfeitures are necessary for police to effectively fight crime, write Brian McVeigh and Dave Sutton for USA Today. There are many regulations that ensure that only the property of criminals is seized. Judges oversee these cases to ensure everything is done by the book. The tactic exists to counter drug dealers exchanging their drugs for cash or other things. Seizing these assets, which must be linked to illegal activity first, prevent further crimes from being committed. Taking the cash that a dealer needs to buy more drugs is a good thing. Stopping this practice would hamper the good police work needed to fight the drug trade.