21:07 GMT13 June 2021
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    US Attorney General Jeff Sessions' newly announced directive to reinstate asset forfeiture will allow authorities to seize the property of Americans on the mere suspicion that they committed a crime and will create an incentive for corrupt practices, American Civil Liberties Union Legislative Counsel Kanya Bennet said in a blog post on Wednesday.

    WASHINGTON (Sputnik) — Earlier on Wednesday, Sessions announced new guidance for the federal government’s handling of money and property seized by local and state police in criminal cases.

    "The new directive authorizes police departments to seize property in cases where criminal charges are not filed," Bennet said. "More often than not, the police who seize the property get to keep it or sell it off and keep the proceeds, which only incentivizes the corrupt practice."

    Sessions' directives roll back some of the reforms enacted by former Attorney General Eric Holder, who limited federal adoption to property that directly related to public safety concerns, such as weapons, ammunition or explosives.

    "We are talking about Americans who have had their homes, cars, money, and other property taken through civil forfeiture, a practice that requires only mere suspicion that property is connected to a crime," Bennet said.

    Bennet added that the new directive gives police officers who do not like their state forfeiture laws "a loophole to police for profit."

    Earlier this year, the Justice Department Inspector General found state and local police agencies had made some $6 billion from civil asset forfeiture, and in some cases assigned officers to search public records for property to seize.


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