The United States Department of Justice has suspended distribution of federal asset forfeiture payments to the Alamance County, North Carolina Sheriff’s Office. In September, the DOJ’s Civil Rights Division authored a memorandum alleging the sheriff’s office engaged in a pattern of discriminatory policing–including a pattern or practice of unlawful and unreasonable seizures targeting Latinos. The Alamance police department recently spent federal asset forfeiture dollars, derived from the DOJ’s equitable sharing program, to send employees to a ‘border school’ sponsored by the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR), after the DOJ purportedly approved the same expenditure for the Rockingham County (NC) Sheriff’s Office. FAIR is labeled a nativist hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center.
North Carolina’s schools could benefit from the suspension. In North Carolina, forfeiture dollars are frequently routed through the DOJ’s Equitable Sharing program to avoid North Carolina’s constitutional requirement that forfeitures go to education. The Alamance County Sheriff’s Office reportedly seized $4,343,857.00 in currency, vehicles, and property through drug investigations in 2011 alone.