Arlington, Va.—Today, Institute for Justice Attorney Darpana Sheth released the following statement regarding the U.S. Department of Justice’s announcement that it will resume its equitable sharing program:
“Today’s decision to revive equitable sharing shows that law enforcement values funding its own operations over protecting constitutional rights.”
“By offering substantial payouts to participating agencies, equitable sharing incentivizes law enforcement to evade state laws and pad their budgets. Local and state law enforcement agencies should be adequately funded, but their budgets should not in any way depend on property seizures.”
“Today’s decision to revive equitable sharing shows the dire need for Congress to pass civil forfeiture reform. We also urge state lawmakers to follow the lead of New Mexico and ban transferring seized property worth less than $50,000 to federal law enforcement. Although today’s decision by the Justice Department is disheartening, we are determined to continue our fight to end civil forfeiture.”
A November 2015 report by the Institute for Justice, Policing for Profit, found that between 2000 and 2013, the Justice Department paid local and state agencies more than $4.7 billion in equitable sharing proceeds.