Home News New Sessions Policy Has Democrats and Republicans Furious

New Sessions Policy Has Democrats and Republicans Furious

0
New Sessions Policy Has Democrats and Republicans Furious

The Justice Department, under the leadership of Jeff Sessions, just announced a new federal policy to help state and local police take cash and property from people suspected of a crime, even when there hasn’t been a criminal charge. This new policy reported on Wednesday reverses an Obama administration rule that was imposed because of past abuse by police.
Deputy Attorney General Rod J. Rosenstein said the Justice Department would include more safeguards to prevent the past problems that have been documented. Police will have to be able to provide details to the Justice Department about probable cause for any seizures and officials of the government will have to more quickly let property owners know about their rights and the status of their seized assets.
“The goal here is to empower our police and prosecutors with this important tool that can be used to combat crime, particularly drug abuse,” Rosenstein said at a news briefing. “This is going to enable us to work with local police and our prosecutors to make sure that when assets are lawfully seized that they’re not returned to criminals when there’s a valid basis for them to be forfeited.”
The previous attorney general, Eric H. Holder Jr., barred state and local police from using federal law to seize cash and other property without criminal charges or warrants.
The Washington Post wrote a series of articles that revealed that police routinely stopped drivers for minor traffic infractions and then pushed for an agreement to searches without warrants. The police seized large amounts of cash even when there was no evidence of wrong doing. Sometimes the police spent the proceeds from the seizures with little or no oversight according to the Post investigation, even buying luxury cars, high-powered weapons, and armored cars.
“You’re never going to eliminate allegations of abuses,” Rosenstein said, “never going to eliminate mistakes 100 percent. But I think this new policy is going to position us very well to make sure there are very few credible allegations of abuse, and where there are we’re going to make it a priority to follow up.”
Republicans are also not happy with the Attorney Generals new direction:

“This is a step in the wrong direction and I urge the Department of Justice to reconsider,” Wisconsin Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner said in a statement. “Expanding forfeiture without increasing protections is, in my view, unconstitutional and wrong.”
“This is a step in the wrong direction and I urge the Department of Justice to reconsider,” Wisconsin Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner said in a statement. “Expanding forfeiture without increasing protections is, in my view, unconstitutional and wrong.”

The new policy from Sessions authorizes federal “adoption” of assets seized by state and local police when the conduct that initiated the seizures violates federal law. Rosenstein said that the department is now going to require safeguards to make sure that police have enough evidence of criminal activity when property is seized. Also, property owners will receive notice of their rights within 45 days; this is twice as quickly as required by the current law.
Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) said that Sessions’ policy was “troubling” and said it would “expand a loophole that’s become a central point of contention nationwide.” “Criminals shouldn’t be able to keep the proceeds of their crime, but innocent Americans shouldn’t lose their right to due process, or their private property rights, in order to make that happen,” Issa said in a statement.
Eric Holder tweeted out criticism as well saying that Session’s policy was “another extremist action” and said the Obama administration policy was “a reform that was supported by conservatives and progressives, Republicans and Democrats.”
Kanya Bennett, counsel for the American Civil Liberties Union, called the action “outrageous.” “We are talking about people who have not been convicted of a crime and are often not given a day in court to reclaim their possessions,” Bennett said. “Civil asset forfeiture is tantamount to policing for profit, generating millions of dollars annually that the agencies get to keep.”
President Trump fully supports this new move by the Department of Justice. On Feb. 7, Trump declared at a meeting with county sheriffs that he is an active supporter of the civil asset forfeiture program and told the Justice Department to rescind the Obama administration restrictions.
Jeff Sessions recently said to the National District Attorneys Association that “no criminal should be allowed to keep the proceeds of their crime.” And ACLU’s Bennett responded, “The problem is that we are not talking about criminals. We are talking about Americans who have had their homes, cars, money and other property taken through civil forfeiture, which requires only mere suspicion that the property is connected to a crime.”
What do you think about this new policy that reverses the Obama administration’s reaction to police abuses?

Credit: Washington Post

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

Pin It on Pinterest

Share This