Justice Department restarts program that allows cops to seize assets from the poor

Justice Department restarts program that allows cops to seize assets from the poor
Image: Justice.gov

Just as the Justice Department announced this week that it is resuming a controversial program that funnels hundreds of millions of dollars in seized assets to police departments around the country, a new report says the practice disproportionately targets low-income and minority communities.

report by the Center for American Progress, released on Friday, says that “a growing array of studies indicates that low-income individuals and communities of color are hit hardest” by the practice of civil asset forfeiture.

Under these sorts of laws, police can seize citizens’ property — cash, cars and even houses — without ever convicting them of, or in some cases even charging them with, a crime. The laws were created to fight drug trafficking in the ’80s, but civil liberties groups say the perverse incentives just as often lead police to target everyday people.

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