The Corner

Politics & Policy

AL Sheriffs & DAs: No Incentive to Enforce the Law if We Can’t Keep the Funds

(Paul Hakimata/Dreamstime)

In January, Republican state senators in Alabama introduced legislation to reform civil forfeiture. The bill makes the radical suggestion that property rights cannot be taken away without due process. (Under current practice, property can be seized without charge, let alone conviction, and the defendant needs to prove innocence at great cost to get it back.) It also aims to curb abuses by directing what does get seized to the state’s General Fund, rather than to the police departments themselves, thereby ending a practice that has been called ‘Policing for Profit’.

The Alabama Sheriffs Association and Alabama District Attorney’s Association are not pleased. Taking to AL.com, the directors of both organizations penned an op-ed in defense of civil forfeiture. They open with blatant dishonesty, claiming that the practice only targets criminals, when in at least a quarter of Alabama forfeiture cases, charges are never filed, let alone convictions made.

The op-ed is actually refreshing in that the authors don’t hide the fact that police departments pursue civil forfeiture for personal gain. Speaking of the reformers’ plan to prevent police departments from keeping the money and assets they seize, they write:

sending the proceeds of forfeiture to the state’s General Fund would result in fewer busts of drug and stolen property rings. What incentive would local police and sheriffs have to invest manpower, resources and time in these operations if they don’t receive proceeds to cover their costs?

Isn’t it the job of law enforcement to enforce the law? Isn’t that why they are paid? Given that many violent crimes happen in the absence of property on the scene to seize, does this mean that Alabama law enforcement have no incentive to spend resources fighting them?

Jibran Khan is the Thomas L. Rhodes Journalism Fellow at the National Review Institute.

Most Popular

U.S.

How to Bend the News

This, from ABC, is a nice example of a news organization deliberately bending the truth in order to advance a narrative that it wishes were true but is not: Venerable gun manufacturer Colt says it will stop producing the AR-15, among other rifles, for the consumer market in the wake of many recent mass ... Read More
U.S.

Trump’s Total Culture War

 Donald Trump is waging a nonstop, all-encompassing war against progressive culture, in magnitude analogous to what 19th-century Germans once called a Kulturkampf. As a result, not even former president George W. Bush has incurred the degree of hatred from the left that is now directed at Trump. For most of ... Read More
Education

George Packer Gets Mugged by Reality

Few journalists are as respected by, and respectable to, liberals as The Atlantic’s George Packer. The author of The Assassin's Gate (2005), The Unwinding (2013), and a recently published biography of Richard Holbrooke, Our Man, Packer has written for bastions of liberal thought from the New York Times Magazine ... Read More
World

Iran’s Act of War

Last weekend’s drone raid on the Saudi oil fields, along with the Israeli elections, opens a new chapter in Middle Eastern relations. Whether the attack on Saudi oil production, which has temporarily stopped more than half of it, was launched by Iranian-sponsored Yemeni Houthis or by the Iranians themselves is ... Read More