AG Sessions Prepares New Asset Forfeiture Policy for Criminals

Attorney General Jeff Sessions said Monday he will issue a new directive aimed at boosting seizures of cash and property from drug dealers, but the idea reportedly has already sparked a call for caution from Sen. Mike Lee, R-Utah.

In prepared remarks to the National District Attorneys Association in Minneapolis, Minn., Sessions said he hoped to issue the new directive on asset forfeiture this week.

“No criminal should be allowed to keep the proceeds of their crime,” he said.

“Adoptive forfeitures are appropriate as is sharing with our partners,” he added, making what appeared to be a nod toward the Equitable Sharing Program, which allowed state and federal agencies to share the money they seize.

The seizures, a signature of the 1980s and ’90s drug war, have been criticized as a tactic that enriched local law enforcement agencies with slush funds, even when the evidence against defendants was thin and criminal convictions did not stick, BuzzFeed News noted.

And Sen. Lee cautioned the Justice Department not to overstep its bounds as it sets new policy, noting Justice Clarence Thomas wanted the Supreme Court to hear a case challenging asset forfeiture.

“As Justice Thomas has previously said, there are serious constitutional concerns regarding modern civil asset forfeiture practices,” Lee said in statement to BuzzFeed.

“The Department has an obligation to consider due process constraints in crafting its civil asset forfeiture policies.”

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