Goodlatte Statement on Asset Forfeiture Report
Congressman Bob Goodlatte, Chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, today issued the following statement on the Department of Justice Office of the Inspector General report, “Review of the Department’s Oversight of Cash Seizure and Forfeiture Activities.” The report found that the Justice Department does not measure how its asset seizure and forfeiture activities advance criminal investigations and does not require its state and local task force officers to receive training on federal asset seizure and forfeiture laws prior to conducting federal seizures. Additionally, the report found that the Drug Enforcement Administration conducts cash seizures that may not advance or relate to criminal investigations, and may pose risks to civil liberties.
Goodlatte: “Today’s report by the Inspector General makes it clear that asset forfeiture is in desperate need of reform. While asset forfeiture is a useful law enforcement tool to fight crime, the current lack of oversight and training poses dangers to Americans’ civil liberties. The Justice Department should implement the recommendations made by the Inspector General and Congress must also improve the law. As part of the House Judiciary Committee’s bipartisan work on criminal justice reform, the Committee approved the Due Process Act last year to strengthen protections for Americans’ property through civil asset forfeiture reform. I remain committed to criminal justice reform and plan to address this matter and others in the 115th Congress.”
Background: As part of the House Judiciary Committee’s bipartisan criminal justice reform initiative, last Congress the Committee approved H.R. 5283, the Deterring Undue Enforcement by Protecting Rights of Citizens from Excessive Searches and Seizures Act of 2016 (Due Process Act) to strengthen protections for Americans’ property through civil asset forfeiture reform. The Due Process Act raises the standard of proof law enforcement must show before depriving an individual of his or her property, increases accountability and oversight of seizures and forfeitures, and strengthens protections for Americans whose property has been seized by law enforcement agencies.