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From High Seas to Highway Robbery: How Civil Asset Forfeiture Became One of the Worst Forms of Government Overreach

07/22/2015

Perhaps one of the most frequent questions FreedomWorks gets from our grassroots community when they hear the many stories of innocent people whose property has been wrongfully taken from them by the government is, how a policy that so blatantly violates the Constitution came to pass? For many, civil asset forfeiture is a relatively new example of government overreach. When they hear the stories, they are outraged.

With these questions in mind, the FreedomWorks Foundation got to work on a new publication, From High Seas to Highway Robbery: How Civil Asset Forfeiture Became One of the Worst Forms of Government Overreach. This publication looks at the roots of civil asset forfeiture in 17th and 18th Century maritime law, the perverse profit motive it presents in modern and current law, how it violates due process, abuse of forfeiture proceeds, and offers basic reforms that will mitigate, if not end, abuse.

While this document focuses primarily on federal civil asset forfeiture laws, in June, the FreedomWorks Foundation released a scorecard, Civil Asset Forfeiture: Grading the States, that offers a look at state laws. All of FreedomWorks' civil asset forfeiture-related content is available here.

As civil asset forfeiture reforms advance in state legislature and, hopefully, in Congress, it is important to know why this is a bad policy that tramples on constitutionally protected liberties and what reforms are necessary to ensure the practice is used to target those who are convicted of crimes. From High Seas to Highway Robbery: How Civil Asset Forfeiture Became One of the Worst Forms of Government Overreach simply provides more information to the FreedomWorks community so they can educate themselves and fellow activists on the dangers this pernicious policy represents to innocent Americans and their property.

From High Seas to Highway Robbery: How Civil Asset Forfeiture Became One of the Worst Forms of Government Overreach