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Articles Tagged with jeff sessions

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travel-778338_1920-300x200In February 2017, Ashley Tami Renee Phillips was stopped at Medgar Wiley Evers International Airport in Jackson, Mississippi by a Transport Security Administration officer. The TSA had discovered Phillips was carrying $30,000 in cash in her checked luggage. He seized the cash.

Law enforcement attempted to take her cash using civil asset forfeiture. This is the procedure where police may take an individual’s money or property if they suspect it is involved in a crime. In Phillips’ case, the Jackson Airport Police Department brought in their drug dog to test the cash. When the dog detected narcotics on the money, the police had found their justification to take the cash. This is despite a study demonstrating that more than 75 percent of currency in the U.S. has cocaine residue on it.
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justice-2060093_1920-300x200Attorney General Jeff Sessions has resigned effective immediately. Sessions’ Chief of Staff, Matthew Whitaker, has been named as acting attorney general in his place. Sessions was a champion of civil asset forfeiture—he reinstated a federal forfeiture program that had been restricted by Eric Holder, his predecessor. Without Sessions at the Department of Justice (DOJ), there is uncertainty over the future of this program.

Sessions faced bipartisan opposition for his championing of civil asset forfeiture. “I’m amazed these people don’t get it. We had a reform in early 2001… relieved some of the concerns from our libertarians,” said Sessions in 2017. The Obama administration, he continued, “actually curtailed this program for the last several years, but we’re going to keep it out there. And as long as we can, we will be doing it.”
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Reacting to the push from the Department of Justice under Jeff Sessions to increase federal power over civil asset forfeiture, Congress seems to be pushing back. A bipartisan effort to peel back the federal government’s civil asset forfeiture programs is gaining traction with Congress members.

At a time when disagreements between the two major parties has led to a federal government shutdown, it’s surprising to see some agreement on major policy reform. But a bipartisan push from two Representatives from different parties and regions of the United States could just be the tip of the iceberg in federal civil forfeiture reform.

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With civil asset forfeiture making a huge comeback under Jeff Sessions and the current justice department, having an understanding of the laws is more pertinent than ever.

Civil asset forfeiture laws vary by state, so depending on where you live, you might not need to worry about it at all. However, with federal laws possibly becoming more far-reaching and strict in the near future, it’s good to know what you’re up against. To start the new year, here are a some facts about civil asset forfeiture that might be surprising to you.

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When it comes to civil asset forfeiture, you don’t have to be charged with a crime in order for your property to be seized. Depending on the circumstances, your property can slip away when you least expect it.

That’s exactly what happened to Gerardo Serrano as he crossed the U.S. border into Mexico late in 2015, when his truck was seized without any charges being brought against him.

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