(c) 2015 Brenda Grantland
from Truth and Justice Blog, 1/17/2015
There was widespread rejoicing yesterday when U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder ordered a new policy governing the Asset Forfeiture Program’s “Federal Adoption” program (often known under the broader term, Equitable Sharing).
Immediately after the order was issued, newspapers, non-profit websites, and people on Facebook were celebrating the demise of civil forfeiture as we know it. Breathless articles were published on the internet and widely reposted, reporting the news based on facts gleaned from other newspaper articles – instead of the policy order itself. [Note: You may download Holder’s policy order and the DOJ press release about it from the Download Attachment links at the top of this page.]
As the story spread, exaggerations grew. By yesterday afternoon, the hysteria on Facebook was spreading faster than I could post comments debunking the misunderstandings. Forfeiture victims were asking if they can get their stuff back now.
The problem began with reporters who misunderstood the legal terms used in the order. For example, the web article Amazing! Holder Ends An Asset Seizure Program, which has since been replaced, 1/ said Holder announced the U.S. “was ending the Federal Government’s ‘Equitable Sharing’ program, otherwise known as civil forfeiture.” Some people took that to mean civil forfeiture had been abolished by Holder’s order – it hadn’t. Equitable Sharing is not the same thing as civil forfeiture. And Holder’s order was not really about the Equitable Sharing program, but the subdivision of that program known as Federal Adoption.
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