tv Attorney General Sessions Discusses Asset Forfeiture CSPAN July 20, 2017 1:33am-1:46am EDT
policy, after that a prime minister question time in the british house of commons, and a statement on state department reorganization plans. next, attorney general jeff sessions outlines plans to reinstate the federal asset forfeiture program and at a justice department meeting with state and local law enforcement officials, the program was shut down ounce -- it allows police to seize property of those suspect have had a crime even if they are never charged or convicted. attorney general sessions -- >> hello there. good, please have a seat. we'll get started. maybe we can chat a little afterwards, too.
glasses. i want to thank all of you for attending. i see many faces that i've gotten to know over the years and in the last few months in particularly and i want to thank our law enforcement partners, the major city chiefs of police association, international chiefs of police group, and to many other officers from all over the country that are here today. i know this issue of forfeiture is probably your top issue, the thing that you've talked to me the most about, and the thing that president trump has indicated that he understands and supports you in. so, thaunk for your service to the country, and all you do to make this a safer place. at any of these law enforcement partners will tell you, and as president trump knows well,
civil asset forfeiture is a key to that helps law enforcement defund organized crime, takes back ill gotten gains from them, and prevent new crimes from being committed, and weakness the criminals and their cartels. it weakance the criminal organization when you take their money. it strengthens our law enforcement when we can share it together and use it to further our effort against crime. even more importantly, it helps return property to victims of crime, civil asset forfeiture takes the material support of the criminals and instead makes it material support for law enforcement. funding priorities like new vehicles, bullet proof investigate its, open oid overdose reversal kits and better training are all paid for bias he the forefy churs. in departments across the
country, funds that were once used to take lives are now being used to save lives. it removes the inner -- instrument talts of crimes such as illegal firearms, ammunition, explosive ifs, property associated with child pore nothingfy from criminals, preventing them from using these tools to further criminal acts. president trump has directed this department of justice to reduce crime in america. we take that seriously. i know that's a challenge. we intend to meet it and i know you do, too. we continue to encourage our civil forfeiture whenever appropriate. we will do so. at the same time, we must protect the rights of the people in this country, the people that we serve, law abiding people whose property is used without their knowledge or consent should not be punished or taken
because of crimes that someone else has committed. i know we all agree on that. and we have to be careful and do this thing in the right way. so, let me just say in the vast majority of cases, this is really not a issue. evidence a usually very clear. our law enforcement officers do a incredibly good job. in fact over the last decade, four out of five administrative civil asset forfeitures filed by the federal law enforcement agencies were never even challenged in court. they're not challenging them because this was usually drug money and they know it was and they have no basis to contest the forfeitures. even so, we want to take every precaution to protect the rights of claimants in those cases that are contested. today the department of justice is continue ting issuing legal guidance thatle clarify doj
policy on the adoption of seized assets. it will return us to long standing doj policy. that's all we're doing is return to the policies that existed for over three decades, that i used when i was a united states attorney many years ago. it will also provide additional supplemental protections for law abiding americans. this will make us more effective at bankrupting organized criminals and at safe guarding the properties of law abiding americans. under today's guidance, the federal government will not adopt seized property unless the state or local agency involved provides information demonstrating that the seizure was -- we will accomplish this through a new adoption form that state and local enforcement must fill out before they -- before we, the federal government, ill
agree to adopt property, which will provide the kind of information dea and the government would need to proceed with the case. and which will include necessary information that the department of lawyers can review carefully to make sure the case is proper. further law enforcement agencies who wish to participate in the department's equitable sharing program must provide their officers with enhanced training so we're all on the same board and well trained on that. the department will adopt smaller seizures of cash between $5,000 and $10,000 for example only if there exists some level of criminality or with the express concurrence of the united states attorney's office. when i was in the senate, i worked with senator schumer, we had a battle over this issue. we made modifications in the law to provide better protections
against possible iblts of abuse. we required probable cause as the burden of proof for the seizure of the property. that's of important. it raised the standard that was then in place. and we raised the burden on the government at trial and the government has the initial burden in these cases to the same preupon drens of evidence standard that is used in almost all civil lawsuits in america today. in addition if the government lost the case, our legislation would make it such that the government when then pay the attorney's fees of the claimant who won the case. we believe those programs are improved the safety and effectiveness of the program at that time. further, to better protect claimants, the department will expedite the review of civil asset forfeiture days cases. state and local law enforcement
agencies requesting federal adoption must do so within 15 calendar days following the seizure. that puts some pressure on your officers but they should be able to do it in 15 days we don't want to be holding money and waiting months for some sort of evidence to come in. we need to move on these cases so a defense can be prepared if necessary. the adopting federal agency must then send notice to interested parties of the seizure. this treme lined process will ensure people receive speedy -- rightful owners will get their property back as soon as possible. in addition to these safeguards on federal adoptions, i'm asking our department of attorneys to proceed with caution when
handling forfeitures involving vehicles and residences special if they are in different names. we just need to be careful how we handle that. some of the complaints have resolved around those kind of cases. i think that the department of attorneys should think hard before they handle these kind of cases, and we're directing them to do just that. just like with the cash seizures, if we operate this program in a careful and responsible way, something i believe the american people expect and deserve, a -- with a program like this, the department's federal asset forfeiture program will be a effective tool while at the same time protecting the rights of property owners. finally, i'm directing agencies and components adopting seized property to prioritize assets that will most effectively advance our overall goal of
reducing violent crime. we need to send a clear message that crime does not pay. this policy is effective immediately and applies to all new requests for adoptions by our state and local officials. with this new policy, the american people can be confident, knowing that we are following the law, and are taking action to defund criminals and statement protecting the rights of law abiding citizens. thank you all for being here. i appreciate the opportunity to work with you in partnership. we are well aware that 85% of law officers are state and local law officers in this partnership has so many advantages, forfeiture sharing, bonds us even tighter together. and makes these partnerships and task forces work as you all know. that's why you've been so clear in your requests that the
department of justice move in this direction. c-span's washington journal live every day with news and policy issues that impact you. coming up thursday morning, south carolina republican congressman mark sanford discusses his call for civility on capitol hill and california democratic congress ran talks about the national security task force p. be sure to watch c-span washington journal live thursday 7:00 a.m. thursday, the senate foreign relations hearing holds a confirmation hearing to the ambassadors to nato, canada and the p united kingdom. online at c-span.org or on the free c spa radio app. sunday on q and a.
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