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More On the Ordered Liberty Allegedly Promoted by the ‘Drug War’

Posted By Don Boudreaux On June 18, 2011 @ 8:58 am In Civil Asset Forfeiture,Civil Society,Crime,Other People's Money | Comments Disabled

From 1989 through 2009, U.S. District Attorneys alone have seized nearly $14 billion dollars worth of assets through civil-asset-forfeiture procedures.  (Data are here [1]; using the Minnesota Fed’s inflation converter [2], I converted these current-dollar figures into 2011 dollars to determine that the grand total of such seizures during this 21-year span, measured in 2011 dollars, is $13,997,395,000.)

Note that this figure does not include the value of assets seized under civil-asset-forfeiture statutes by state- and local- government officials.

These assets were seized from their owners without any requirement that the seizing officials – in this case, agents of the U.S. Department of Justice – prove that the owners of these properties are guilty of the underlying criminal offenses that serve as the alleged justification for government to seize these properties.

I don’t know the exact proportion, but a huge portion (I believe a sizable majority) of civil-asset-forfeiture seizures are done on suspicion that the owners of the properties are somehow connected with trade in prohibited drugs.

So here we have significant injuries inflicted on two major organs of any free and civil society by the “war on drugs” war on peaceful people (only some of whom use intoxicants that the government disapproves of): the rule of law and security of property rights.

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[1] Data are here: http://www.drugwarfacts.org/cms/Forfeiture

[2] Minnesota Fed’s inflation converter: http://www.minneapolisfed.org/

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