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Pigs land: A close look at Eric Holder’s announcement on Friday that he was ending the use of federal law to seize private property turns out to be greatly exaggerated.
Holder’s order applies only to “adoption,” which happens when a state or local agency seizes property on its own and then asks the Justice Department to pursue forfeiture under federal law. “Over the last six years,” the DOJ says in the press release announcing Holder’s new policy, “adoptions accounted for roughly three percent of the value of forfeitures in the Department of Justice Asset Forfeiture Program.” By comparison, the program’s reports to Congress indicate that “equitable sharing” payments to state and local agencies accounted for about 22 percent of total deposits during those six years. That means adoptions, which the DOJ says represented about 3 percent of deposits, accounted for less than 14 percent of equitable sharing. In other words, something like 86 percent of the loot that state and local law enforcement agencies receive through federal forfeitures will be unaffected by Holder’s new policy.
The story also notes how the press, especially the Washington Post which led with this story, teamed up with Holder to overstate the impact Holder’s order would have.
Holder’s action is still in the right direction. He just didn’t go very far, which makes perfect sense considering the generally corrupt and oppressive nature of the Justice Department since he took it over. Initially I thought pigs were flying by his announcement. Now I know they can’t.