Eric Holder just placed a major check on police powers

http://www.vox.com/2015/1/16/7558329/eric-holder-asset-forfeiture

The Department of Justice on Friday curtailed a federal program that allowed police to seize and keep cash, cars, and other private property without evidence of a crime, the Washington Post reported. Police will no longer be able to seize private assets through the federal program unless they’re directly linked to public safety concerns. Items that can still be seized include illegal firearms, ammunition, explosives, and property associated with child pornography. Police have been heavily criticized for using the program to seize people’s assets without evidence of a crime and pocketing the proceeds to fund their own departments. The change places a big check on police power The federal program, established during the onset of the war on drugs, allowed police departments to seize private property allegedly used for criminal purposes, even without evidence of a crime, and share the proceeds with federal agencies. Police departments and drug tasks forces would keep up to 80 percent of the proceeds, while federal agencies claimed the rest. Some state laws will still allow police to seize private assets, but those laws typically force the proceeds to go to a state’s general fund — instead of the police departments themselves. Critics of the federal program said it created an incentive for police to unnecessarily stop and search people, since the seizures could be used to fund their own departments. A previous Washington Post investigation found police routinely seized property without any evidence of wrongdoing. A government official speaking to the Post anonymously said Attorney General Eric Holder “believes that the new policy will eliminate any possibility that the adoption process might unintentionally incentivize unnecessary stops and seizures.” Further reading: How police can take your stuff, sell it, and pay for armored cars with the money.

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