With America facing bankruptcy with a $17.8 trillion dollar debt , President elect Donald Trump faces a grave challenge. Balance the Books.
So what’s the plan, Stan?
Well most of us would think taxes. But no! As a matter of fact here is what Trumps tax plan adds to the coffers.
Assets are often seized—and never returned—without any judicial process or court supervision. Unlike criminal forfeiture, civil forfeiture doesn’t require a criminal conviction or even charges. According to the Virginia-based Institute for Justice, which tracks forfeitures, 13% of all forfeitures done by the Justice Department between 1997 and 2013 were in criminal cases while 87% were civil forfeitures. And 88% of those forfeitures were done by an administrative agency, not a court.
Mr. Sessions said he was “very unhappy” with criticism of a program that mostly took money from people who have “done nothing in their lives but sell dope.” But his focus on the utility of criminal forfeitures overlooks the serious need for reform to end due-process abuse in civil forfeitures.
The AG nominee was once a prosecutor in Alabama, and that state is among the big offenders. According to a report by the Institute for Justice, between 2000 and 2013 Alabama took in more than $75 million in revenue through the equitable-sharing program. IJ ranks Alabama 31st in the nation for the amount of money it received in equitable-sharing payments from the Justice Department from 2011 to 2013. The top three, which take the least amount of money in equitable sharing, are South Dakota, North Dakota and Wyoming. Worst are Rhode Island, California and New York.
In 2015 then-Attorney General Eric Holder rolled back part of the equitable-sharing program known as “adoption” which allows state governments to get a piece of the federal forfeiture pie. But this was only a suspension, and the former status quo can be reinstated by another Attorney General.
The lack of procedural protection coupled with financial incentives has turned policing for profit into a slush fund for governments hungry for cash, and the payouts too often come at the expense of civil liberties.
The Sourovelises’ son, who lived at home, was arrested for selling a small amount of drugs away from home. Soon there was a knock on their door by police who said, “We’re here to take your house” and “You’re going to be living on the street” and “We do this every day.” The Sourovelises’ doors were locked with screws, and their utilities were cut off. They had paid off the mortgage on their $350,000 home, making it a tempting target for policing for profit.
Nationwide, proceeds from sales of seized property (homes, cars, etc.) go to the seizers. And under a federal program, state and local law enforcement can partner with federal authorities in forfeiture and reap up to 80 percent of the proceeds. This is called — more Orwellian newspeak — “equitable sharing.”
No crime had been committed in the Sourovelises’ house, but the title of the case against them was Commonwealth of Pennsylvania v. 12011 Ferndale St. Somehow, a crime had been committed by the house. In civil forfeiture, it suffices that property is suspected of having been involved in a crime. Once seized, the property’s owners bear the burden of proving their property’s innocence. “Sentence first — verdict afterwards,” says the queen in “Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland.”
As USAG, Sessions will have the ability to upgrade and adjust the Civil Forfieture and equitable sharing programs. Perhaps dropping to a 60/40 split in favor of his Justice department.
Remember, no crime needs be committed, however how many of you lie on your tax return, or smudge a bit on your income for a loan from the bank (FDIC INSURED), or even travel with cash in your pocket! And how about those offshore accounts that the feds have forced the offshore banks to report.
BEWARE, Cause here comes da Judge!