Federal Adoption, Equitable Sharing and Federalism
22 Pages Posted: 8 Jul 2012 Last revised: 10 Mar 2017
Date Written: May 14, 2012
Federal and state civil asset forfeiture laws permit law enforcement agencies to seize and forfeit property that is “guilty” of being used in the commission of a crime and remit the proceeds to their own budgets. To incentivize state and local police to enforce federal drug laws in accordance with congressional wishes, the Department of Justice has formulated a forfeiture disbursement scheme to local police departments involving so-called adoption and equitable sharing. Equitable sharing represents several threats to federalism and the abilities of state legislatures to direct and implement law enforcement policies. The end result is that state and local police departments may act against the interests of their state legislatures and become de facto federal agents in the war on drugs. This paper explores these threats to federalism posed by adoption and equitable sharing and explores some possible solutions.
Keywords: federalism, equitable sharing, adoption, constitutional law, state legislatures, war on drugs, police, law enforcement
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