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Jeff Sessions Defends Seizing Assets From People Suspected of Crimes

The attorney general defended the practice of civil asset forfeiture on Wednesday.

Attorney General Jeff Sessions said on Wednesday that law enforcement would use assets seized from criminal enterprises to combat those criminal organizations.

“Civil asset forfeiture is a key tool that helps law enforcement defund organized crime, takes back ill-gotten gains from them, and prevents new crimes from being committed and weakens the criminals and their cartels,” Sessions said.

“It weakens the criminal organizations when you take their money,” the attorney general declared. “And it strengthens law enforcement when we can share it together and use it to further our effort against crime.”

Sessions said that law enforcement would use seized assets to acquire “new vehicles, bulletproof vests, opioid overdose reversal kits, and drug training.”

There is some dispute in legal and political circles over asset forfeiture. The Washington Post outlined the debate in an article published earlier this week:

Asset forfeiture is a disputed practice that allows law enforcement officials to permanently take money and goods from individuals suspected of crime. There is little disagreement among lawmakers, authorities and criminal justice reformers that “no criminal should be allowed to keep the proceeds of their crime.” But in many cases, neither a criminal conviction nor even a criminal charge is necessary — under forfeiture laws in most states and at the federal level, mere suspicion of wrongdoing is enough to allow police to seize items permanently.