Policing for Profit: The Abuse of Civil Asset Forfeiture

Policing for Profit: The Abuse of Civil Asset Forfeiture is the most comprehensive national study to examine the use and abuse of civil asset forfeiture and the first study to grade the civil forfeiture laws of all 50 states and the federal government. Under state and federal civil asset forfeiture laws, law enforcement agencies can seize and keep property suspected of involvement in criminal activity. This incentive has led to concern that civil forfeiture encourages policing for profit, as agencies pursue forfeitures to boost their budgets at the expense of other policing priorities. The results in this study demonstrate not only that federal equitable sharing is a loophole that state and local law enforcement use to circumvent strict state laws but also that pursuit of profit is a significant motivator in civil forfeiture actions. Simply put, when laws make civil forfeiture easier and more profitable, law enforcement engages in more of it.

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