The third edition of Policing for Profit presents the largest-ever collection of state and federal forfeiture data. All told, our research team gathered 17 million data points from 45 states, the District of Columbia, and the departments of Justice and the Treasury. For 28 states, we obtained revenue data describing individual forfeited properties—a total of 355,000 properties for the 24 states with usable data. For another 11 states, we obtained revenue data at the level of individual agencies or prosecutors’ offices. We also collected data on spending from forfeiture funds for 17 states, the largest collection of such data. The breadth and detail of these data paint the clearest picture to date of forfeiture across the United States.
In pursuit of these forfeiture data, we filed hundreds of public records requests with state and federal agencies, going so far as to sue two of them—the Internal Revenue Service and Customs and Border Protection—when they refused us records. But that was only the beginning. Many colleagues and others helped us obtain these data and turn them into this landmark report. The authors gratefully acknowledge their contributions while claiming any errors or omissions as our own.
Mindy Menjou expertly edited the text and oversaw the production of the print and web publications. Her editorial contributions improved our work and saved us from many an inadvertent error. And her deft management and sound judgment were critical to bringing this project and its many moving parts to fruition.
Latham & Watkins LLP is representing IJ pro bono in our ongoing suit against the IRS. Morrison & Foerster LLP represented us pro bono in our suit against CBP.
Braden Boucek of the Beacon Center of Tennessee and Christy Horpedahl of the Arkansas Center for Research in Economics assisted us with records requests in their states.
Dick Carpenter led the database design and helped to streamline the cleaning process, thinking many steps ahead for the analysis. Anthony Ward also assisted with the database design. Master Key Interactive helped with maintenance and updates.
Alec Mena, Kyle Sweetland, Aurora Jacques, Eli Feasley and Anthony Ward cleaned, collected, entered, organized and checked data. Alec and Kyle were particularly helpful, handling much of the workload and lending their keen attention to detail.
Rachel Rozenboom, Amanda Botts, Adam Linthicum, Rachel Hannabass Metz, Marie Miller, Ava Mouton-Johnston and Diana Olazabal also checked data. Rachel Rozenboom also provided key research support, including fact-checking and collecting relevant literature.
Keith Diggs and Wesley Hottot oversaw the legal research that went into the report’s grades. Keith also researched conviction provisions, helped create the revised grading scheme and provided vital input on a variety of other issues. Wesley also provided input on the report’s treatment of conviction provisions and discussion of “excessive” forfeitures.
David Hodges did the legal research for 24 states; Ricard Pochkhanawala for 19 states; and Jaba Tsitsuashvili for 11 states. (There was some overlap.) In addition, Jaba cite-checked some of the legal research, as did Patrick Jaicomo and Andrew Ward. Melissa LoPresti helped to coordinate the legal research and cite-checking thereof.
Dan Alban, Lee McGrath, Darpana Sheth, Dick Carpenter, Dana Berliner and Scott Bullock weighed in on the treatment of conviction provisions and revised grading scheme.
Darpana and Lee, along with Rich Hoover and Braden Boucek, also advised us on administrative forfeiture, improving our understanding of the many variations of the procedure.
Robert Frommer provided input on the report’s discussion of an ongoing legal challenge to South Carolina’s civil forfeiture laws.
Nick Sibilla’s tracking of forfeiture legislation informed the report’s discussion of recent reforms.
Dick Carpenter helped design and refine the methodology for the report’s New Mexico analysis and reviewed the results. Dennis Sheehan, Ph.D., also reviewed the report’s New Mexico analysis, offering thoughtful feedback on methodology and results.
Ana Pedraza researched state tax seizure laws to help us understand data from North Carolina.
Scott Bullock, Dana Berliner, Darpana Sheth, Dan Alban, Wesley Hottot, Keith Diggs, Lee McGrath and Nick Sibilla all reviewed drafts, providing critical feedback on the writing of the report. Robert Frommer, Sam Gedge, Paul Avelar, Arif Panju and Justin Pearson reviewed sections of the report, helping to sharpen its discussion of particular topics.
Laura Maurice-Apel created the attractive design and layout for both the print and web versions of the report, cheerfully bearing with us through data and design software hiccups. Nathalie Walker designed the cover for the print report. Erin Nogle helped with the hyperlinks for the PDF version of the report. Don Wilson oversaw the production process.
Justin Wilson built the infrastructure for the web version of the report, including the State Profiles, which involved many moving pieces. Rachel Rozenboom painstakingly entered the data to populate said web versions of the State Profiles. Rachel also helped with various checks of the web version of the report.
Adam Gray created the video under Mark Meranta’s supervision. Don, Scott Bullock and John Kramer provided guidance on the script. John Ross narrated.
Jason Tiezzi created the data visualizations illustrating key points from the report. Don, Laura, Adam and Justin helped to hone the visualizations. Justin also helped with troubleshooting. Renée Flaherty, Emily Gammon, Abby Halzel, Megan Hauck, Alec Mena, Marie Miller, Kim Norberg, Chad Reese, Rachel Rozenboom, Savannah Rupp, Kyle Sweetland, JoJo Tompkins and Andrew Wimer tested the functionality of the visualizations. Rachel and JoJo, along with Lisa Bergstrom, Nick Haydon and Evan Lisull, also checked the data. Evan also proofread the visualizations.
Evan Lisull proofread the report. Mindy Pava, Caroline Grace Brothers, Renée Flaherty, Joshua House, Rob Johnson and Melissa LoPresti also proofread parts of the report. Evan and Mindy also checked and formatted legal citations. Conor Beck, Rachelle Engen, Kim Norberg and Rachel Rozenboom checked links.
It is likely that we have forgotten other contributors and contributions. To them all, we say thank you.