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Record: Investigative Reports: Seized by the Law


Investigative Reports: Seized by the Law

Video Call Number: Location:
1079 Biddle Law Library

Production Company

A&E Home Video

Year: Running Time: Format:


"...[A]n investigation that uncovered rampant abuse of the laws of civil asset forfeiture at the grass roots levels of law enforcement. Police in small towns across the country are stopping motorists and seizing their cash as drug money without any arrest being made or even any evidence that a crime has been committed. The money seized then flows back to the local police department which seized it to the tune of hundreds of million dollars a year. The motorist, meanwhile, is virtually powerless to get his or her money back. Our investigation included the procurement of a library of videotapes shot by the Volusia County sheriffs office in Florida. The tapes clearly showed a pattern of discrimination by sheriffs deputies in stopping and seizing the automobiles and cash of minority motorists....This was the first time these tapes were ever shown to a national television audience. These tapes also formed the basis for a grand jury investigation of the Volusia County sheriffs office."--1996 Peabody Awards entry form. The 1984 Comprehensive Crime Control Act revitalized civil asset forfeiture and "granted law enforcement broad powers to seize any property used to facilitate a drug crime." Shows abuse of asset forfeiture at the local level along I-10 through Sulphur, La. and I-95 through Volusia County, Fla. States "according to critics, nearly 70% of the drivers stopped on the Volusia tapes are either black or Hispanic; a group that makes up <15% of the driver on the road." Closes with "the challenge now is preserve forfeiture as a weapon of law enforcement but eliminate the potential for abuse."


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