Today Wall Street Journal published a feature article by John Emshwiller and Gary Shields on asset forfeiture abuses in the United States titled “Federal Asset Seizures Rise, Netting Innocent with Guilty“. Hopefully, the attention brought by such high-profile coverage will prove vital to the task of rallying reformers to again engage the task of effectively reforming America’s draconian forfeiture regime. Indeed, reformers may recall the excellent 2000-era series on asset forfeiture published in the Kansas City Star by Karen Dillon, which was instrumental in prompting numerous organizations (including the National Conference on State Legislatures) and politicians to look into forfeiture abuses.
There are many aspects to the WSJ feature article that I’ll be discussing on this blog later this week. Right now, I’ll leave you with this quote from David Smith, a former US attorney who now practices privately in Virginia:
“We are paying assistant U.S. attorneys to carry out the theft of property from often the most defenseless citizens,” given that people sometimes have limited resources to fight a seizure after their assets are taken, says David Smith, a former Justice Department forfeiture official and now a forfeiture lawyer in Alexandria, Va.