Ever wonder why police spend so much time enforcing failed drug laws? To find the answer, you just need to follow the money. Funding schemes and asset forfeiture laws have given law enforcement agencies strong financial incentives to continue the drug war. Because funding for drug task forces is often based on the number of arrests made and the amount of property seized in drug busts, the easiest way for local police to up their numbers and boost their careers is to target low-level drug offenders, not violent kingpins. To create arrest opportunities, police routinely rely on untrustworthy informants, conduct dangerous home invasions on flimsy evidence, frame suspects and commit perjury. Asset forfeiture laws allow law enforcement agencies to seize property with minimal proof, putting the burden instead on suspects to prove their own innocence. Because these assets often go straight into the coffers of the enforcement agency, these laws have created financial incentives for property seizures that encourage corruption. DPA is working to end distorted drug war incentives that foster police corruption and encourage good cops to make bad decisions.
Law Enforcement Lobby Deploys Heavy-Handed Scare Tactics
Senator Mitchell’s Bill, SB 443, Would Have Required Conviction Before Forfeiture
SACRAMENTO, CA — Civil asset forfeiture reform legislation authored by Senator Holly Mitchell (D-Los Angeles) and David Hadley (R-Torrance) failed to pass the Assembly Floor today after extraordinary efforts by law enforcement to defeat it, including personal calls to legislators’ cell phones and other scare tactics. Despite bipartisan support and nearly unanimous votes at every previous juncture, SB 443 could not survive the Assembly Floor vote today.
Civil asset forfeiture allows the government to seize cash, cars, real estate, or other property suspected of being connected to criminal activity. In civil forfeiture actions the property itself, rather than an individual, is believed to be connected to a crime. In fact, under federal law (as well many state laws) property can be seized and forfeited even when criminal charges are never filed against a property owner, as is the case in a staggering 80% of civil asset forfeitures.
Overwhelming Bipartisan Support for Civil Asset Forfeiture Reform Nationwide Gains Momentum with Sacramento Vote
SACRAMENTO, CA — Today, civil asset forfeiture reform legislation, authored by Senator Holly Mitchell (D-Los Angeles) won nearly unanimous approval in the California State Senate with a 38-1 vote.
Co-sponsored by the Drug Policy Alliance, ACLU and the Institute for Justice, SB 443 will require law enforcement agencies in the State of California to adhere to state laws regarding civil asset forfeiture, rather than transferring cases to federal prosecutors and courts where property rights and evidentiary standards are much lower.
Four Votes Today on Stopping DEA and Justice Department from Undermining State Marijuana Laws
Votes Come in Wake of Recent Forced Resignation of DEA Head and Growing Public Pressure to End Drug War and Mass Incarceration
WASHINGTON, D.C.—Legislators voted by a simple voice vote last night to end the DEA’s controversial bulk data collection programs, as part of the U.S. House of Representatives' consideration of the Fiscal Year 2016 Commerce, Justice, and Science Appropriations bill. The House also passed three amendments that cut $23 million from the DEA’s budget, and shifted it to fighting child abuse, processing rape test kits, reducing the deficit, and paying for body cameras on police officers to reduce law enforcement abuses.
Resignation Comes as DEA at Center of Series of Scandals in its Effort to Continue Failed War on Drugs
After Decades of Mass Incarceration, Racial Disparities, and Failed Drug Policies, DEA Finally Facing Scrutiny
New DPA Issue Brief Released Today: The Scandal-Ridden DEA: Everything You Need to Know
A senior White House official has said that the head of the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), Michele Leonhart, is expected to resign soon. The news comes as no surprise to drug policy reformers who say her opposition to reform made her out of step with the Obama Administration.
The federal Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) has existed for more than 40 years, but little attention has been given to the role the agency has played in fueling mass incarceration, racial disparities and other drug war problems.
Tuesday Teleconference Featuring California State Senator Holly Mitchell, Author of New California Bill to Rein in Forfeiture Abuses
With Bipartisan Support in U.S. Congress and Buoyed By New Mexico’s First-of-Its-Kind Law That Ends Civil Forfeiture, Momentum Accelerates for Reform
Tomorrow, the Drug Policy Alliance launches Above the Law: An Investigation of Civil Asset Forfeiture Abuses in California, a multi-year, comprehensive look at asset forfeiture abuses in California that reveals the troubling extent to which law enforcement agencies have violated state and federal law.
Above the Law: An Investigation of Civil Asset Forfeiture Abuses in California is a multi-year, comprehensive look at asset forfeiture abuses in California that reveals the troubling extent to which law enforcement agencies have violated state and federal law. Civil asset forfeiture law allows the government to seize and keep cash, cars, real estate, and any other property – even from citizens never charged with or convicted of a crime. Because these assets often go straight into the coffers of the enforcement agency, these laws have led to a perversion of police
Advocates Reminded of the Often Undeserved Sway of Law Enforcement
This week an asset forfeiture reform proposal died in Colorado’s Senate Judiciary Committee. SB-006 aimed to join other states and the recent federal effort to curb the intrusive, arguably unconstitutional and financially distorted incentive practice of civil asset forfeiture.
FAIR Act Would Eliminate Department of Justice Program that Enables State and Local Police to Keep Proceeds of Property Seized from Citizens
Momentum Builds in Congress for Civil Asset Forfeiture Reform Days after Attorney General Holder Issues Policy Limiting Police Participation in Controversial Department of Justice Program
Bipartisan legislation was introduced in both houses of Congress today that would roll back changes made in the 1980s by Congress to federal civil asset forfeiture laws largely intended to incentivize law enforcement to pursue civil asset forfeitures as part of the rapid escalation of the war on drugs. In the Senate, Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY), Sen. Angus King (I-ME) and Sen. Mike Lee (R-UT) introduced the Fifth Amendment Integrity Restoration (FAIR) Act. In the House, Rep. Tim Walberg (R-MI), Rep. Scott Garrett (R-NJ), Rep.