Aggressive police take hundreds of millions of dollars from motorists not charged with crimes

Part of an e-mail I received from the Institute for Justice (IJ):

There’s been tremendous activity over the past few weeks in our campaign to end civil forfeiture, so I want to give you a report.

Imagine getting pulled over for a broken taillight or a forgotten turn signal only to have your car and the cash you were traveling with confiscated by the police.  As The Washington Post documents this week in an explosive three-part series, that nightmare is an underreported reality for thousands of American motorists each year.  IJ contributed heavily to the Post series, which has been months in the making, and we are featured in the opening video and quoted in the series finale.

So what’s behind the epidemic of forfeiture abuse?  A groundbreaking IJ strategic research report released this week exposes the profit incentive at the heart of civil forfeiture laws.  The report, Bad Apples or Bad Laws?  Testing the Incentives of Civil Forfeiture, details a cutting-edge experiment that shows that civil forfeiture isn’t a problem of just a few “bad apple” police officers or rogue prosecutors, but rather that bad laws encourage bad behavior.  Civil forfeiture creates a real and perverse incentive for law enforcement to pursue profits instead of justice.

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