According to a scathing report out this week, the Chicago Police Department, the most corrupt police department in the United States, has kept $50 million of the $72 million seized in asset forfeiture, between 2009 -2016, for themselves. Civil asset forfeiture is the legal practice of stealing from the population, without the population [citizen] ever having been convicted of a crime. It has come under fire in recent years, has been challenged in court, however the barbaric practice continues.
The Chicago PD might not keep records of how many people they murder in a year, but they certainly make sure they notate the amount of money and assets seized from the public, right down to the penny. An analysis conducted on their records revealed that out of the seventy-two million dollars in stolen property and cash they acquired, they turned over only $18 million to Cook County, and 7.2 million to the Illinois State Police. This demonstrates nothing other than the fact that highway robbery is legal when conducted by masked bandits of the state.
The Institute for Justice has ranked Illinois among the worst offenders for their abuses of civil asset forfeiture, grading them a D-. According to the IFJ, “Civil forfeiture laws pose some of the greatest threats to property rights in the nation today, too often making it easy for law enforcement to take and keep property-regardless of the owner’s guilt or innocence.”
Getting agencies to open up about civil asset forfeiture is difficult, despite the Freedom of Information Act. As it currently stands, only 11 states have laws in place requiring disclosure of information related to assets seized. A handful more have laws in the legislature, but for the time being, uncovering information on asset forfeitures remains a difficult task.
The numbers are staggering when looking at state to state. The reported numbers add up to the hundreds of millions of dollars, however are believed to be much higher in reality. Due to missing or intentionally omitted data, the actual numbers could be as much as double the currently cited figures. For the year 2012, Illinois came in toward the top of the list with over $19 million in seized assets. Arizona had a total of over $43 million in total acquired asset through 2012, with California coming in at over $15 million.
The funds seized by the Chicago Police Department have no oversight and besides the percentage taken by other state agencies, can be spent as the holders of the purse strings see fit. Often the money goes directly back into the agency’s special operations and narcotics units. Some of the money has undoubtedly been spent on upgrading the departments surveillance capabilities – without having to get budgetary approvals from politicians. The practice is reminiscent of the CIA using trafficked drug money to fund their black operations.
According to the city, this year’s nearly $5 million in assets will go toward paying officer salaries and benefits, as traditional funding is challenged in a city on the verge of bankruptcy.
“Other states have passed legislation to mitigate this incentive by requiring forfeiture income to go toward the general operating budget of the municipality or state, or into special funds for education or drug treatment,” stated Ben Ruddell, a lawyer for the ACLU of Illinois. “As it stands, CPD is free to use its forfeiture income at will, and outside of the public eye.”
The fact that law enforcement agencies set their own rules for civil asset forfeiture and control the funds once seized, poses an enormous problem. It is fundamentally allowing the lunatics to run the asylum. Having complete autonomy over such vast quantities of money inevitably leads to abuse and corruption, something the city of Chicago is all too familiar with.
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