Forfeiting Justice

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Forfeiting Justice:

How Texas Police and Prosecutors Cash In On Seized Property

By Scott Bullock and Dick M. Carpenter II, Ph.D.
November 2010

Related Cases/Media

Case: Texas Civil Forfeiture - State of Texas v. One 2004 Chevrolet Silverado

Report: Policing for Profit

Video: Policing for Profit

Video: Co-author Scott Bullock discusses Forfeiting Justice

Video: Ending Forfeiture Abuse: How States Can Be Tough on Crime and Respecting Property Rights

California Civil ForfeitureUnited States v. 2601 West Ball Road, Anaheim, Calif., No. 12-CV-01345 AG-MLG

Texas law gives police and prosecutors generous rewards for seizing people’s property—without even having to prove the owner committed any crime.  And the law makes it so hard for owners to fight for the return of their property that many give up without even trying.  As Forfeiting Justice shows, Texas law enforcement agencies are increasingly profiting from this power of “civil forfeiture.”

The report finds that from 2001 to 2007, Texas agencies took in at least $280 million in forfeiture funds and annual proceeds tripled over those seven years.  In 2007, the top 10 forfeiture money-earning agencies in Texas took in proceeds equal to more than one third of their budgets.  From 2001 to 2007, about 74 percent of forfeiture funds were spent on equipment, while nearly a quarter went to salaries and overtime pay.

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