Civil asset forfeiture has become increasingly controversial in recent years, as we’ve seen several stories of law enforcement officials abusing their authority to seize suspects’ property that they allege was involved in a crime.
South Carolina news station WYFF 4 reports that police departments in the state have raked in an estimated $22.7 million in property seizures over the last five years alone.
This estimate earned South Carolina a “D-” grade from the Institute for Justice, a group that advocates against abuse of the civil forfeiture system.
“South Carolina is more focused on policing for profit, taking money off the streets, than it is for arresting bad guys and getting drugs off the street,” Institute for Justice managing attorney Lee McGrath told WYFF 4. “A person does not need to be charged or even convicted of a crime to lose their property. You can be acquitted of a charge in criminal court, but still lose your property through civil forfeiture.”