WASHINGTON – The Department of Justice today announced it would be largely ending the practice of adoption and equitable sharing of assets seized by state and local law enforcement following concerns recently raised by Sen. Chuck Grassley of Iowa, Chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, and three other members of Congress.
“While asset forfeiture certainly can serve an important purpose in criminal investigations, the practice of adoption and equitable sharing raises a number of concerns. The rule of law ought to be about protecting innocent people. Too often we’ve seen just the opposite with civil asset forfeiture laws. The practice up to this point had perverse incentives and violated some state laws. I’m thankful that the Department of Justice has decided to limit the use of this program. The devil is in the details, but the result of today’s announcement, which has bipartisan congressional support, likely means a fairer justice system,” Grassley said.
Grassley led a bipartisan, bicameral letter to Attorney General Eric Holder on January 9, 2015, recommending that the Department discontinue the program. Grassley has indicated that reforming asset forfeiture policies would be among his goals as Chairman of the committee, and will continue to seek policy changes to improve it.