Jeff Sessions, in an announcement this week, said that there will be a shift to increase the use of asset forfeitures, especially from drug suspects. The plan that the Justice Department has in mind, will make it easier for law enforcement to seize cash and property from crime suspects AND reap the proceeds.
This has been a long-criticized practice because it allows for law enforcement to take property, like cars and money, without any indictments or evidence that a crime has been committed. This idea is another attempt at reversing the Obama implemented policies; at the time, Eric Holder enforced more strict control over the department’s forfeitures due to concerns that property was being seized without any oversight of a crime even occurring. Holder also mainly focused on restricting federal officers of taking possession of assets seized by local authorities and sharing in the proceeds. Eric Holder’s reforms were praised, however, in a response to Eric Holder’s reform, Jeff Sessions says these types of forfeitures are “appropriate”. Sessions explained that the practice known as adoptive forfeiture is, “appropriate, as is sharing with our partners.” His statement was followed up with a round of applause from hundreds of county attorneys and law enforcement officials.
Sessions also explained, “With care and professionalism, we plan to develop policies to increase forfeitures. No criminal should be allowed to keep the proceeds of their crime.”
The Justice Department claims this practice will benefit 3 things: 1) it will strip suspects of the proceeds of their activities 2) it will deter crime 3) it will compensate crime victims.
In his speech , Sessions urged the room full of prosecutors to pursue the toughest punishments against most crime suspects and focused on these top priorities: cracking down on illegal immigration and violent crime. Sessions also focused on gang activity. According to the AP. “pointing to cities such as Minneapolis, where data show a recent uptick in violent crime. And he encouraged prosecutors to go after drug offenders, because “drug offenses are not nonviolent crimes, as most of you all know.”