tv Washington Journal Clark Neily Discusses Civil Asset Forfeiture Policy CSPAN July 24, 2017 11:48pm-12:17am EDT
c-span's "washington journal," live every day with news and policy issues that impact you. tuesday morning, a minnesota republican congresswoman discusses the opioid epidemic and a california democratic congresswoman discusses the russian investigation. then david hawkins of cq roll call will discuss congressional pay and benefits. be sure to watch the c-span's "washington journal congo live at 7:00 a.m. eastern tuesday morning. join the discussion. announcer: now a conversation on the justice department's new civil asset forfeiture policy. from "washington journal," this is 25 minutes. host: clark neily joins us for the first time, vice president for criminal justice at the cato institute, joins us today to discuss a shift in policy by the trump administration on the issue of civil asset forfeiture. before we shift, let's define
explain what civil asset forfeiture is. guest: sure. o you know, i don't use the term civil asset forfeiture, that plays into the government's terminology, i use civil these are not assets, a lot of times, people cars they use to get to work and their homes. forfeiture, civil and criminal. forfeiture, after a government convicts somebody and proves that particular property, involved in was the crime in some way, so they take proceeds of the crime or used to commit it. civil forfeiture is different, is the government has to do assert the property was involved in a crime somehow, they get to the burden shifts to the owner of the property to get for doingompt seedure so are mind-numbingly complex. he government likes to use civil forfeiture tis almost impossible for someone to get prpt back. host: can you give us a sense of it l forfeiture, how often
happen necessary dollars or number of case? >> guest: it is difficult to the government doesn't keep track of the difference in civil and criminal forfeiture. there was a comprehensive study department ted the of justice uses civil forfeiture about 87% of the time, in other forfeitures of property the department of justice undertakes, 87% are instead of criminal, that shows just how much they prefer civil. host: what happened last week, what policy was being shifted here? macro level, the what attorney general said he was going to be very aggressive going to instruct the department of justice to be roll the reforms that occurred under the obama administration the term, ally used key policy, civil forfeiture is and he has instructed prosecutors within the department of justice to be
aggressive using it, as i said, rolled back some the ms implemented under obama administration to protect innocent owners. here is the attorney general talking about the of civil asset forfeiture. >> civil asset forfeiture is a enforcement law defund organized crime, take gotten gains from them and prevent new crimes from weakens the ted and criminals and their cartels, it eakens the criminal organizations when you take their money and strengthens law enforcement when we can share it together and use it to further crime. against more importantly, it helps return profit to victims of crime. civil asset forfeiture takes material support of the criminals and instead make its material support for law
enforcement. unding priorities like new vehicles, bullet-proof vests, overdose, reversal kits and better training are all paid by asset forfeitures. departments across this country, funds that were once used to take lives are now being lives. save it removes the inner of crime such as llegal firearms, ammunition, explosives and property associated with child pornography from criminals from being able to use these tools to further their criminal acts. president trump has directed this department of justice to crime in america, we take that seriously. host: attorney general on the of civil asset forfeiture. what is your criticism of it? guest: so many. those are the supposed benefits. tool in he said a key
defunding organized crime. i'd like to know just how often can epartment of justice connect any given forfeiture to organized crime. used to work in this field, litigate these cases, i've never seen a forfeiture tied to organized crime. come from, tures working people. here in washington, d.c., there they awsuit by aclu, determined the median amount of cash forfeiture in washington, $120, in philadelphia $178. assets, this is not organized crime, it is pocket working m ordinary americans there, has never been proof the object was involved in crime. is days grace sxfl needs to stop. call democrats 202-748-8000. republicans, 202-748-8001. 202-748-8002. as the justice department will ced last week, they roll back some efforts by the obama justice department to
civil asset forfeiture, they said they would rights, ndividual deputy attorney general rob they will said include safe guard to prevent problems that have been the past, some hings include the adoption of authorizing federal adoption of assets seized by state and local conduct that led to the seizure violates federal law. rosens rosenstein said when property is owners will receive notice of their rights within 45 which is the quickest under law. does that make you more comfortable? whatsoever. it is window addressing. serious reform, hundreds, if not documented abuses. ere officials, including
department of justice officials disciplined in any way? s far as i know, the answer is no. they are serious about protecting innocent peep when e will they start disciplining people who commit the abuses. the number of officials civil ined for abusing forfeiture is close to zero. you been setting this and why did you get into this? studying civil n asset forfeiture for five years. me angry when i see the government stealing property from innocent people. happen. i use the word stealing intentionally. diminishesematic, it public respect for law enforcement when people think, times, this is about policing for profit, that is what is go og much of the to stop.needs host: baltimore, maryland, line ahead.mocrats, go caller: good morning, thank you for taking my call. attorney general has
brought this back, i was wondering if this is a tool that robert mueller could use in the trump and on against jared ministration and money -- kushner with landering landering. it goes back to the '80s when supposedly going ba to hear i would like your thoughts on that, is this something that can be used? on crimeswould depend involved. one very important thing, civil forfeiture is used against limited means and minorities, that is a demographic fact. civil forfeiture would be used, it is tool of people with ainst limited economic means and racial minorities.
will continue. host: the caller brings up jared arrive on ected to capitol hill in the not too distant future to testify before senate intelligence committee on their probe of russian interference in the 2016 election. that senate hearing happening this week -- happening behind closed doors, also will appear before the house in hearing setting. expected to arrive at the hart building this morning on the north side of the senate. for that arrival. will, sterling,, virginia. independent. for taking my ou call n. this country, we're until d to be innocent proven guilty. if you haven't been proven of a the rule i understand correctly, you can have your property seized. not illegal under illegal search and seizure?
is that even possible if you haven't been convicted of a are , but just think you guilty? guest: great question. we have aon in short, judiciary asleep at the switch much of the time and refuses to limits onnstitutional government power. you have put your finger on one of them. ivil forfeiture is massive violation of procedural due process for precisely the reason presumes guiltit instead of innocence, it is massively unconstitutional, good news, there is bare glimmer of judicial interest in this issue thomas act, clarence wrote an opinion recently and called into question the constitutionality of civil forfeiture and it is possible we could see progress on that front. mike in union town, pennsylvania, republican, go ahead. i have one question. in the west e virginia border.
what about how they used up -- is a lot of, there gangs, motorcycle gangs and all that kind of stuff up here. seems to do er anything about that. it just runs -- ain't nobody losing their property or like that. -- n't understand how the the system works. you know, there is a certain that just do e whatever the hell they want and -- now they confiscate your house because they think wrong, okay.thing they just take it. with. it, over and done guest: really good point, i agree with you, you are right to outraged. let me make this point, one of the worst things about civil
distorts law enforcement priorities. violent crime, motorcycle gangs, law enforcement is enforcing crimes more money for them through civil forfeiture. know way, you should this, the national homicide clearance rate in america is 64%, the clearance rate for violent crime together is a s than 50% and we have policy that has been embraced by the attorney general that diverts law enforcement from enforcing and investigating these violent crimes and has been focused on money through civil forfeiture. disgraceful. host: the caller brings up example of a motorcycle gang. civil forfeiture work case against a motorcycle gang. guest: so be nothing a illegal, gang is not that is important to keep in mind f. they are engaged in
illegal activity, sometimes they are, running drugs or something like that, you would build an essentially and document the illegal behavior f. there were assets involved, motorcycles, cash, drugs, you could seize it all. n important point to keep in mind, i want to underscore something i said a moment ago, he decision whether to proceed with a case depends whether there is money available for law enforce toment forfeit. here is a question i'd like to ask the attorney general. 87% of federal forfeiture are civil, not criminal. instructed the u.s. attorneys back in may to charge the most serious readily crime.e so you have all this money being forfeiture, civil which can only be done if you think a crime has been committed. office within the department of justice that decides who gets a free pass criminal mes to activity? the department of justice says we will not assets
prosecute you. the attorney general sessions are losing properties because they are criminal, being a they don't get prosecuted. hard time understanding how that works. with us for eily the next 15 minutes or so as we civil asset e forfeiture. kevin is in woodbridge, ahead.a, independent, go caller: good morning, thank you taking my call. i'm retired from the military, i did a long time, i put in a lot years serving in defense of constitution, including the amendments and rights of the constitution. concern here is twofold. because i i have asset, maybe all car, ie i wanted a sports
paid my money and i go and buy ride ar and i decide to down the highway and somebody in uniform, a law office uniform, to make de they want money decide to pull me over, for what may be considered probable cause and and say, prove bought is car was not with -- and because i don't have any proof, you don't carry that proof in your car, oh, this must it's ours.ey, just infuriates me. the second thing, how can we leave it to someone who is at on the street to etermine what -- how someone got a certain asset or how they ludicrous.is just
i mean, it makes me think i put years of defending this country, nothing. for the call. guest: first, thank you for your service and you're exactly right outraged, forfeiture is massively unconstitutional, it policy, it does result in seizure of people's vehicles money from d innocent people all the time. i know that personally, i've and you can just start google civil forfeiture will see so many abuses it will surprise and shock you. ne example, this happened in las cruces, new mexico, there city attorney on civil forfeiture for law enforce room full ribed to a of officers how they might target a car they coveted. here is an body, example of somebody driving a
you want he said, if that car, here is how you get it. follow a person around until get a in a bar and couple drinks, you wait for them to start up the car and you becomes the police department's property. this does happen. host: two questions from twitter. and where did civil forfeiture get its start and what is success rate of cleared g assets once of wrongdoing? guest: great question. medieval england, the law went on the books when needed a h government ay to seize ships on which contraband goods came over from the united states. t was used in colonys and fell into diffuse, came back a little and g alcohol prohibition with the war on drugs, it blew up. ivil forfeiture was a policy that was rarely used to a policy that is widespread today. in
department of justice took in less than 100 million dollars in forfeiture money. in 2014, year for which statistics are most recently was $4.5 billion, that is the war on drugs and civil forfeiture, 4600 of forfeiture. host: and the success rate? those no one knows, statistics are not kept. what i will say is this, civil extraordinarily form of law. cases, just to find a lawyer to competently culean his case is her effort, extremely difficult to litigate. ules and procedures are on the government side, they deliberately stack the deck to make it hard to get your back.ty it is hard once it is taken. democrat, good morning. is er: i agree with -- this
highway robbery from law enforcement. the ve to wor bethieves in billions and this is not right. we need to do something about it highway robbery. i mean, it's not right. to do something. we need to call our representatives, we need to laws, this is ridiculous. host: what is being done to change the law? guest: good news, i agree with you, there is data that shows that the government took in more monneforfeiture than stolen from property owners biburglars in the last year. rampant and highway robbery is not an xajeration, are 15 good news, there states that have eliminated ivil forfeiture, 14 states where the government must get a criminal conviction before they can take property. the prpt needs to be headed and i think that is headed.he policy is
84% of americans oppose civil my eiture, according to colleague at cato institute. if you look at people and that oppose it, aclu, heritage foundation, justice, cato r institute, mike lee, justice thomas, the list goes on and on, think of a policy where america is more united than forfeiture.o civil it is a shame to swim against diminishing and support for law enforcement by supporting a policy that america ates, why does america hate this policy? it is unfair, unjust and unconstitutional. host: go to cato.org, if you cato o check out the institute. a republican, go ahead. aller: thank you, the cesspool is filled with the legal system. to attorneys that bring laws the books have someone they can sue and take their money from.
not, the legal system has nothing to do with morality anymore. people.e enemy of the for every law created, there is criminal act that the people suffer under, that is what is taking place, sessions is the by this, sappointment he is an attorney. i know there is good attorneys nd there is reasons for people to have attorneys, but this uing that is going on and laws that are created that inhibit the american public from being free is criminal. this is not a moral system any longer. it is frustrating and i understand your frustration. i have to at least say one thing of the attorney general, he's got a really difficult job. he attorney general is responsible for forcing so many federal laws his own department them.count they have tried and can't do it. more than 4000 federal criminal laws and vast majority of which are unconstitutional, they
subjects not committed to legitimate responsibility of the federal government and the to enforceneral have so many laws his department can't count them and most of unconstitutional. i have sympathy for the nature job.e host: joe, go ahead. caller: good morning, thank you taking my call. while listening to the several thought come to my mind, the first one -- forfeiture is $120. other osing money -- the -- proven fact already hen they unconskounconstitutional. host: i think we got the
question. would love to take the second point, it is so important in understanding one of the aspects of the new session on civil forfeiture. enable federal government to displace state policy. let me unpack that for you. said, 14 states eliminated civil forfeiture, many other enacted other reform. it is clear what direction the states are moving in. here is the disgusting thing about civil asset forfeiture. sharing, the ble federal government is able to step in and work together with law enforcement to subvert local policies and essentially in, they do step the forfeiture under federal law back up to 80% of money they have gotten back to state agency, law enforcement even in state determined forfeiture done in that case permissible under state law, get the feds involved, they displace state
violation of federalism and shocked to see somebody like supports ons who federalism and division of power between state and federal supporting a policy like this. host: jason says i'm sitting wondering why the government needs to be so deeply involved with our lives. in great falls, good morning. caller: hello. kudos for c-span, i love your show. and being a democrat i'm seldom find myself in alliance with the cato institute, but this is one of those instances. -- know about ld if i didn't know states could practice. this and i guess you have answered my about that, i would because of federal forfeiture or this civil that i re type action,
have never carried more than a couple hundred dollars when i travel a lot because i'm a contractor and over the united states. for that reason, i've never $300 with me than at any time while traveling. this: i'm mortified to say as a fellow american, that is a wise policy. at quick story when i was institute for justice. there was a christian rock band the united states to raise money, their manager was returning to dallas from one of concerts, he had $53,000 in cash raised through concerts thailand for orphanages. he was stopped in oklahoma, no car, never done drugs in his entire life. money, ce seized that stole it from him because we were able to publicize that one spot get to number of the "washington post" website of district attorney
muskogee, relented and gave the back. it happens everyday in america. the most corrupt and corrupting today.in america host: we'll end it there, a topic we'll talk about again down the road. clark >> erik paulsen discusses the -- epidemic. they will discuss benefits. be sure to watch c-span's "washington journal," live in. join the discussion. senior white house adviser
and son-in-law jared kushner spoke to the intelligence committee about the ongoing russia investigation. he made a brief statement about his testimony. that is next on c-span. president trump holds a health mitch mcconnell said earlier they will take a procedural vote on health care tomorrow. we will hear from senate majority leader chuck schumer. a house panel gets an update on .order technology security we will hear from the acting head of the u.s. border patrol. in the afternoon, a hearing on u.s. policy towards north korea. they testify before a -- you can