Civil Asset Forfeiture (CAF), in which law enforcement can tie inanimate objects to crimes without a charge and confiscate them from innocent civilians and criminals alike, is a bipartisan issue which has been an issue Americans across the aisle have taken a negative look at for several years now. Currently, in the South Carolina general assembly, steps are being taken to end this foul practice once and for all.
According to the Tenth Amendment Center, a “bill introduced in the South Carolina House would reform the state’s asset forfeiture laws to prohibit the state from taking a person’s property without a criminal conviction in most situations. Passage of the bill would also close a federal loophole that allows police to circumvent more strict state forfeiture laws by passing cases off to the feds.”
The loophole described is in regards to a federal practice known as “equitable sharing” which allows state prosecutors to bypass certain laws preventing CAF abuse by passing the buck to federal law enforcement, who then shares a piece of this theft flavored pie with the state since now the case regarding the stolen property is within the jurisdiction of both state and federal law enforcement.
CAF as a practice is wrong because it enables policing for profit since most private property obtained is auctioned off and sold so the money comes back to certain agencies and departments. According to the Pulitzer Center “The practice skirts the Fourth Amendment’s guarantee that Americans are free from unreasonable searches and seizures, and it provides a potentially corrupting incentive for police to circumvent the law to fund their departments.”
A report from the Institute for Justice has stated this legal and controversial law enforcement practice “has all the hallmarks of an inviting target for public-interest litigation and advocacy: a cutting-edge legal controversy, sympathetic property owners who have little or no involvement in criminal activity, and simple, outrageous facts that show ordinary Americans facing the loss of their property.” With this program allowed to run amok, cops can turn law-abiding citizens into criminals for any reason in order to seize their property.
Police have seized everything from letters traveling through the postal service with cash to even a person’s own car. This injustice is currently under well-earned scrutiny from Democrats and Republicans since the current state of policing for profit has turned the entire citizenry into a criminal cash pot where only through the legislative process can this wretched legal plunder be stopped once and for all.