Prostitutes, drugs and sports cars.
Those are just a handful of the outlandish items police forces across the country have purchased with money seized from American citizens, often without any criminal charges being filed against them.
In its video, “The Craziest Things Cops Spent Forfeiture Money On,” the civil liberties nonprofit Institute for Justice highlighted its top six examples of unorthodox purchases made with the thousands of dollars seized from families, small business owners and individual citizens suspected – but not charged – with criminal activity, as allowed under U.S. civil asset forfeiture law.
“Under civil asset forfeiture, police can seize property suspected of involvement in criminal activity. Unlike criminal asset forfeiture, with civil forfeiture, people don’t have to be convicted — or even charged — with a crime to permanently lose their cars, homes, or cash,” the Institute noted. “Even worse, in many cases, police get to keep what they seize through asset forfeiture. As long as cops get to keep what they seize, civil asset forfeiture will keep on spawning scandals.”
The Institute for Justice calls out police forces for spending seized money on “steak and booze” at celebrity-studded barbecues and for splurging on kegs and a margarita machines at various parties — but those are just the tip of the iceberg.