Asset Forfeiture: Effective Sanction or Government Thievery?

Leo Downing, North Georgia College & State University
Brent Paterline, North Georgia College & State University

ABSTRACT
Civil asset forfeiture has come to be viewed as the weapon of choice in our national war on drugs. Police argue that the procedure allows them to combat drug crime by attacking the economic viability of drug trafficking operations while raising money for future law enforcement operations. Critics argue that the procedure distorts law enforcement priorities and violates a number of constitutional protections. This paper recounts the early history of the practice, it's expansion, specific cases of abuse and recent attempts at reform (Civil Asset Forfeiture Act of 2000). The paper also explores the future implications of these reform attempts.

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Updated 05/20/2006