Rand Paul Tries (Again!) To Make It Harder for Police To Take Your Stuff
Amid popular calls for policing reform, a handful of senators are resurrecting a bill to make it harder for police to take people’s property without first convicting them of crimes.
Sens. Rand Paul (R–Ky.), Mike Lee (R–Utah), Mike Crapo (R–Idaho), and Angus King (I–Maine) reintroduced the Fifth Amendment Integrity Restoration (FAIR) Act this week to significantly restrain the federal use of civil asset forfeiture, a practice that lets police and prosecutors seize and keep property they claim are associated with criminal activity.
Because the process is “civil,” it often allows police to do this without ever proving the property owner has committed a crime, or even charging them with criminal action. Those facing the forfeiture process often have to pay for their own lawyers (if they can afford lawyers, what with their assets being seized) and face a complex bureaucratic process stacked against them. This was sold as a way to fight drug cartels, but over the past several decades it has become clear that cops are abusing the process to pad their budgets and payrolls. Instead of drug kingpins, the targets are frequently poorer people, often minorities or immigrants, who lacked the financial resources to fight back when police took their property. Law enforcement agencies have raked in more than $35 billion in this way over the last two decades.
Several states have tried to curtail abuses by imposing their own restrictions on forfeitures, but the f
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