Washington Post: Gothamist on asset forfeiture abuse at NYPD

It’s been interesting to watch as outlets outside legal and criminal justice circles pick up on the outrage that is civil asset forfeiture. Though it’s been going on for more than 30 years, most people just aren’t aware of it. And they’re pretty astonished when they learn about it.

The latest investigation comes from Gothamist, looking at how NYPD uses the policy.

The line about the policy “being ruled unconstitutional twice” pertains only to specific versions of the New York City forfeiture policy. Civil asset forfeiture in general, the idea that the government should be able to take and keep your property without ever charging you with a crime, has been upheld as constitutional by the U.S. Supreme Court. In fact, the Court has held that you can lose your property even if someone else used your property to commit drug crimes, and you weren’t aware of it. The former head of the forfeiture unit for the Bronx DA’s office told Gothamist that in about 85 percent of civil forfeiture cases, the property owner is never charged with a crime.

By Radley Balko

Read full article here.