One of the things that makes Jefferson Beauregard Sessions completely unemployable in government except for the State of Alabama or Donald Trump’s cabinet is the way his heart goes pitter patter for the most unjust and unconstitutional violations of personal rights. He just gets all swooney in the knees for civil asset forfeiture, which I describe as “what if you’re a drug dealer” policies. Progressives hate this. Real conservatives hate this. Anybody who understands the various positive qualities of the Constitution and the wisdom of the Bill of Rights hate this. Morons like Sessions think it’s a tool in the law enforcement arsenal. Yeah sure, like Duterte style summary execution.
The basic idea is that law enforcement can, if you should come into their steely line of sight, look at you and legally ask themselves “what if you’re a drug dealer?” so that even if you have not been convicted of a crime, even if you haven’t been accused of anything having to do with drugs, they can assume that you are a drug dealer. And that means that all of your property and assets are open for confiscation like the U.S. Army marching through Georgia in 1864.
Moreover, the way it’s practiced in some places, not only all of your assets and property may be assumed to have been acquired with dirty, dirty drug money, your friends and family can be assumed to have property acquired that way too. ‘Cause natch if you’re a drug dealer you probably bought that car your Mom drives with meth money.
And then even after you are completely exonerated of whatever brought you into unfortunate contact with law enforcement, you and your Mom can spend years fighting in court to get your shit back.
It’s a travesty of a mockery of a sham of law enforcement policy.
In Texas and the vast majority of U.S. states, forfeiture is driven by profit motives. Law enforcement agencies echo Sessions in saying the practice helps crack down on drug cartels, allowing cops to seize contraband and property that could serve as evidence in criminal cases. Lee McGrath, the senior legislative counsel at the Institute for Justice, a libertarian public-interest law firm that tracks forfeiture trends, says that this is not how forfeiture works in practice. Police, sheriffs, and local prosecutors seize small sums of money and other valuables—including electronics, cars, and houses—then sue the owners of those items so they can take ownership themselves. Most people whose property is taken don’t have the right to an attorney to fight for their belongings, since they haven’t been charged with a criminal offense. A 2014 Washington Post investigation that analyzed 400 federal court cases involving civil forfeiture uncovered that the majority of people who’d been victimized by the practice were nonwhite. Additional investigations have yielded similar findings in Oklahoma, California, and Pennsylvania.