State and Federal Forfeiture Revenues

Through the early 2000s, forfeiture revenues saw steady growth, much of it at the federal level, before spiking sharply in 2012. The particularly lucrative years between 2012 and 2015 are partly attributable to a few unusually large federal forfeitures—in the hundreds of millions and even billions of dollars—related to financial fraud cases. 1

Absent these, forfeiture revenues have plateaued in recent years with a dip in 2017 (see Figure 1). And while state revenues overall have generally increased since the early 2000s, specific state trends vary, partly due to changes in reporting. Improved reporting over time likely inflates the upward trend.

Figure 1: Federal Revenues and 20 States’ Combined State Revenues, 2002–2018

Note: The 20 states are Arizona, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Hawaii, Illinois, Iowa, Louisiana, Minnesota, Missouri, Montana, New York, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Dakota, Texas, Virginia, Washington and Wyoming. In 2014 and 2015, New York had unusually high revenues. Though included in overall reported totals, these are excluded from this figure as outliers. See data notes in State Profiles for state source details. Federal totals include both DOJ’s and Treasury’s forfeiture fund deposits. Federal data are from DOJ’s and Treasury’s annual forfeiture reports. Figures are not adjusted for inflation.