Civil Forfeiture and its Negative Effects on the American People

Eddie Cronin

Jay Varner

April 26, 2017

Work Sited

Cassella, Stefan D. “Forfeiture Is Reasonable, and It Works: Criminal Law & Procedure Practice Group Newsletter – Volume 1, Issue 2, Spring 1997.” The Federalist Society for Law and Public Policy Studies, Federalist Society, 1 May 1997, Accessed 20 Apr. 2017.

“Civil Forfeiture Highway Shakedowns in Tennessee.” Youtube, uploaded by InstituteForJustice, 19 May 2011, Accessed 20 Apr. 2017.

“Civil Forfeiture: Last Week Tonight with John Oliver (HBO).” Youtube, uploaded by LastWeekTonight, 5 Oct. 2014, Accessed 20 Apr. 2017.

Criminal Justice Division. “History of Civil Asset Forfeiture =.” State of Hawaii,, 2017, Accessed 21 Apr. 2017.

Dick M. Carpenter II, Lisa Knepper, Angela C. Erickson, & Jennifer McDonald, “Policing for Profit: The Abuse of Civil Asset Forfeiture,” 2nd Edition, Institute for Justice, November 2015.

Douglas-Bowers, Devon. “Cash Cops: How Civil Forfeiture Enriched U.S. Law Enforcement.”, Playground Group, 10 Mar. 2015, Accessed 26 Apr. 2017.

Fix Forfeiture (@FixForfeiture) “RT if you agree with #FixForfeiture’s five goals for reform:” 23 June 2015, Tweet Accessed 23 April 2017.

Gallant, Mary Michelle. Money Laundering and the Proceeds of Crime: Economic Crime and Civil Remedies. Northampton, E. Elgar, 2005.

This book introduces the reader to the process of how criminals try and illegally launder their money in Great Britain and the United States. The United States sections were the areas in the book where I put most of my focus. The chapters on civil forfeiture are not the majority of the book however, they are in depth and useful for gathering information about the long history of this legal practice. it was interesting to see how other countries that incorporate forfeiture practices, such as Great Britain, compare to the United States. This source summarized the essential use of forfeiture by law enforcement in order to combat illegal activities. It was useful to gain the viewpoint of those who implemented forfeiture because it allowed me to understand the pro-civil forfeiture argument. This is important for my project as I want to stay unbiased as much as I can. This source aided me in this regard as it showed forfeiture in a positive light in its original purpose of combating crime.

“How Police Departments Use Civil Forfeiture to Collect Billions.” Youtube, uploaded by Vice, 14 Mar. 2017, Accessed 21 Apr. 2017.

McEvers, Kelly. “Victims of Civil Forfeiture Criticize New Federal Rules.” NPR, National Public Radio, 26 May 2016, Accessed 20 Apr. 2017.

Montagne, Renee. “New Mexico Ended Civil Asset Forfeiture. Why Then Is It Still Happening?” NPR, National Public Radio, 7 June 2016, Accessed 20 Apr. 2017.

Murphy, Mary. “Race and Civil Asset Forfeiture: A Disparate Impact Hypothesis.” Texas Journal on Civil Liberties & Civil Rights, vol. 16, no. 1, 1 Oct. 2010, pp. 78-99.

This source comments the effects that civil forfeiture laws bring to citizens of the United States. The author argues that the power created by the policy leads to discrimination and law enforcement corruption. The article references the findings of the Institute for Justice and how their findings revealed how each state receives in revenue from civil forfeiture cases. The sources incorporate these findings to talk in-depth about some of the states with the worst civil forfeiture laws. The author states how these laws create opportunities for discrimination as law enforcement can target certain races when conducting a civil forfeiture case. The unique argument made in this article offers another layer of discussion I can utilize in my project. The social effects of civil forfeiture on certain populations and how the practice that began as a way to deter criminals has become an unofficial tax in certain communities.

Nelson, Caleb. “The Constitutionality of Civil Forfeiture.” Yale Law Journal, vol. 125, no. 8, June 2016, pp. 2446-518.

The source focuses familiarizing the reader with the process that takes place once a piece of property is forfeited over to the government. The journal also briefly touches on the recent history of civil forfeiture from the practice being expanded by the Nixon administration in the 1970’s to recent reforms such as the Civil Asset Forfeiture Reform Act of 2000. The author also brings up and then answers the question of whether or not these practices are constitutional. The author explores the use of forfeiture laws throughout American history starting even before the United States was founded. His findings give a timeline for how long civil forfeiture has been involved in the American court system. The source is insightful to the popular less favorable view of civil forfeiture. The concerns the author reveals about civil forfeiture are well-founded and convincing. The history provided of the use of these practices is intriguing and will be beneficial when describing how ingrained the law is in the American legal system. The opinions shared by the author reflect that of an opponent to civil forfeiture and his critiques of the practice are useful in constructing my project as it allows me to not become one-sided or biased.

“Pennies from Heaven’ Police Chief Talks Asset Forfeiture (Raw Footage).” Youtube, uploaded by Citizens for Justice, 19 Nov. 2012, Accessed 21 Apr. 2017.

“Policing for Profit Visualized: How Big Is Civil Forfeiture?” Youtube, uploaded by InstituteForJustice, 10 Nov. 2015. Accessed 22 Apr. 2016.

Rand Paul (@DrRandPaul) “For too long, civil forfeiture has ruined the lives of tens of thousands of Americans. Support the FAIR Act” 21 April 2017, Tweet Accessed 23 April 2017.

Rothschild, Daniel Y. “Don’t Steal; The Government Hates Competition: The Problem with Civil Asset Forfeiture.” The Journal of Private Enterprise, vol. 31, no. 1, 1 Mar. 2016, pp. 45-56.

This journal entry explores how civil asset forfeiture can have a negative effect on the incentives of the police. The author argues how the high revenue that is obtained through civil forfeiture motivates the police to focus on making more arrests for victimless crimes. Due to the risk being so much lower than violent crime and the physical reward being so much higher. The author emphasizes how much easier the civil forfeiture process is when compared to the criminal forfeiture process. The author provides a brief history of civil forfeiture as well as recent reforms. This journal entry stands out among the rest due to the reoccurring theme of civil forfeitures negative affect on law enforcement. This article is thought provoking as it asks questions about how the practice of civil forfeiture effects how the police conduct. This sources helps balance out the viewpoints I’m researching for this project as it makes several points that serve to discredit the pro-civil forfeiture argument as it makes its prime proponents look like they have a conflict of interest.

Sallah, Michael. “Stop and Seize.” The Washington Post, Fred Ryan, 6 Sept. 2014,

Sean Bowie (@seanbowie) “Very happy to see that Governor @dougducey signed #HB2477- good, bipartisan bill that reforms our civil forfeiture system. Win for AZ!” 12 April 2017, Tweet Accessed 23 April 2017.

Snead, Jason. “An Overview of Recent State-Level Forfeiture Reforms.” The Heritage Foundation, Heritage Foundation, 23 Aug. 2016, – _ftn3. Accessed 18 Apr. 2017.

“Sometimes Cops Find Your Stolen Car. Sometimes Cops Stole It.” American Civil Liberties Union, American Civil Liberties Union Foundation, 2017, Accessed 13 Apr. 2017.

“Sometimes Cops Find Your Stolen Car. Sometimes Cops Stole It.” Youtube, uploaded by bravenewfoundation, 28 Oct. 2013, Accessed 20 Apr. 2017.

U.S Department of Justice. Asset Forfeiture Policy Manual. Washington D.C., The United States Department of Justice, 2016. Accessed April 21st 2017

Worrall, John L. Problem-Oriented Guides for Police Response Guides Series. Washington D.C., Office of Community Oriented Policing Services, 2008.

This article is one of a series that is made specifically for police to educate them in the policies they are enforcing. It includes information about the beginnings of forfeiture, the many kinds of forfeiture, the benefits of forfeiture, and how to implement a forfeiture program.This source is a gold mine for information about forfeiture in America. It gave me a summary of all the ways law enforcement can implement forfeiture which is useful for understanding the context in which many of the cases originate from. As this source was created by the Department of Justice to be used by the police it offers insight on to how law enforcement sees forfeiture as a tool to be used to deter crime. This is useful in understanding how the government wants the laws to be used by the police.

Dick M. Carpenter II, Lisa Knepper, Angela C. Erickson, & Jennifer McDonald, “Policing for Profit: The Abuse of Civil Asset Forfeiture,” 2nd Edition, Institute for Justice, November 2015.



Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s