Attorney General Eric Holder’s asset forfeiture order applies to civil and criminal forfeiture. It does not, however, apply to administrative forfeiture, which generally allows law enforcement authorities to claim uncontested property without any judicial involvement. Such property can include currency of unlimited value, vehicles of unlimited value or other property with a value of up to $500,000.

After Cause of Action filed a FOIA request back in 2012, the Department of Justice notified us that administrative forfeitures are increasing exponentially, and are the most popular form of seizure by a wide margin. Following up on that, we found that from 2001-2011, 70 percent of all seized assets were processed as administrative forfeitures. That, according to a report done by a Justice Department IG. There is little reason to think the numbers for the last two years are any different.

In addition, Holder’s order is limited to adoptions, but public records show that these are the least-used method of asset forfeiture in DoJ’s asset forfeiture program. According to GAO, adoptions made up only about 17 percent of all equitable sharing payments as recently as 2010.

Our findings show that if this administration is serious about attempting such reform, the recently announced policy changes fall far short of the mark. The bottom line is that any serious effort to limit or end the practice of federal adoption of state and local seizures must include administrative forfeitures, which constitute the vast majority of such seizures.

Cause of Action Calls on DOJ IG to Audit Forfeiture Programs by Cause of Action