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Courts / Law

Sen. Brandes Criticizes Federal Forfeiture Policy

Credit Chris Yarzab via wikimedia commons

The Department of Justice is promising a return to the law and order enforcement policies of the war on drugs.  Some Republican lawmakers are worried those policies might undermine state laws.

Attorney General Jeff Sessions is reversing the previous administration’s policy on civil asset forfeiture—making it easier for local law enforcement agencies to seize property they believe is connected with a crime even if an arrest isn’t made.  Like the mandatory minimum sentences Sessions champions, seizures were a tool popular during the war on drugs.  Sen. Jeff Brandes (R-St. Petersburg) says the approach doesn’t work.

“I think that these policies of returning to being able to seize property without an arrest, or be able to throw somebody in jail without looking at the individual facts of the case are against the values that I hold so dear of freedom and liberty,” Brandes says.

Brandes led the charge on state provisions restricting civil asset forfeiture, and he worries the new federal policy could undermine the law.  Local agencies are incentivized to seize assets because the federal system shares up to 80 percent of the proceeds when property isn’t reclaimed.

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