House Pulls Rug Out From Sessions’ Controversial Policy

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The House pushed back at Attorney General Jeff Sessions on Tuesday when it voted to restrict the practice of seizing cash and property of suspects who have not been charged with criminal activity.

Back in 2015, then-Attorney General Eric Holder restricted the federal government from seizing assets from local authorities—except when public safety was concerned. In July of this year, Attorney General Jeff Sessions reversed the policy, allowing seizure of cash and property so long as certain criteria are met—but being formally charged with a crime is not among the stipulated criteria.

Those in favor of asset forfeiture support the practice because it removes assets from illegal activity and can redirect them to victim compensation or law enforcement. A report in March of this year showed that since 2000, $4B had been given to victims, and $6B has gone to law enforcement activities at both the state and local levels.

However, critics of Sessions’ order say that it allows local authorities to operate in an environment that now has fewer restrictions. About two dozen states have statutes that make it more difficult to seize assets from parties that have not been convicted of a crime; Sessions’ order allows that to be circumvented.

Trump wants to use funds to strip away restrictions on the use of forfeited assets, but a bipartisan group of representatives pushed an amendment to a 2018 spending package for the government that would prohibit that action.

Among those representatives include Don Beyer (D-Va.), Ro Khanna (D-Calif.), Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.), Justin Amash (R-Mich.), Mark Sanford (R-S.C.), and Raúl Labrador (R-Idaho). Their amendment specifically restricts adoptive forfeiture, which would otherwise permit the federal government to claim assets seized by local authorities.

Source: The Hill

Image Source: Gage Skidmore via Flickr

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