Sunday January 18, 2015
While headlines in Yahoo News and Raw Story blare, respectively, “U.S. attorney general bans asset seizure by local police” and “No more asset seizure: Eric Holder bans controversial ‘war on drugs’ tactic,” the truth is that United States Attorney General Eric Holder on Friday changed US Department of Justice policy in a manner that will result in at most a small rollback of asset seizures.
It is true that there appears to be a rollback in the police state for a change. The catch is that the rollback is nowhere near the monumental change that some people in the media are trumpeting. The many and broad exceptions in Holder’s order all but swallow the announced headline-garnering rollback. Depending on how the order is interpreted and implemented, it may provide almost no asset seizure relief.
Holder’s order terminated immediately on Friday a portion of the US government’s Equitable Sharing Program. The program has funneled billions of dollars to local police departments via seizures of people’s cash and property without any demonstration required of a relation between the person deprived of the assets, or the assets themselves, and criminal activity.