Media Center

News Investigations

“Taken” traces the history of civil forfeiture in the United States and shines a spotlight on some of its most egregious abuses.

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A multipart investigation into the federal “equitable sharing” program, the “Stop and Seize” series found that law enforcement nationwide conducted nearly 62,000 cash seizures without criminal charges or search warrants.

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A front-page exposé revealed how the IRS routinely abused “structuring” laws to seize the bank accounts of innocent small-business owners.

Pulitzer Center

Partnering with several local news organizations, the Center has taken a deep dive into forfeiture activity by multiple states.


Two former heads of the Justice Department’s Asset Forfeiture Office called for the abolition of civil forfeiture, which they describe as “fundamentally at odds with our judicial system and notions of fairness.”

IJ President Scott Bullock and Legislative Analyst Nick Sibilla examine how the Supreme Court’s ruling in Timbs v. Indiana can revive the Eighth Amendment’s Excessive Fines Clause.

A joint oped between Sen. Rand Paul and IJ President Scott Bullock urge Congress to pass the FAIR Act, which would enact a sweeping overhaul of federal civil forfeiture laws.


Outlets that have called for forfeiture reform include:

IJ/YouGov Poll: Americans Overwhelmingly Oppose Civil Forfeiture

As you may or may not know, “civil forfeiture” allows law enforcement officials to seize cash, cars, or other property if they suspect it is involved in a crime, even if the property owner has not been convicted or charged with a crime. Given this, to what extent do you support or oppose “civil forfeiture?”
  • 8% – Strongly support
  • 17% – Somewhat support
  • 23% – Somewhat oppose
  • 36% – Strongly oppose
  • 15% – No opinion
Federal law allows law enforcement agencies to keep 100 percent of proceeds from property that has been forfeited. To what extent do you support or oppose allowing law enforcement agencies to use forfeited property or its proceeds for their own use?
  • 7% – Strongly support
  • 16% – Somewhat support
  • 19% – Somewhat oppose
  • 44% – Strongly oppose
  • 15% – Don’t Know/No opinion
States like Minnesota and others have recently passed laws limiting the use of civil forfeiture, but legislators left in place a provision allowing local law enforcement to work with federal officials to bypass the tougher state law. Once federal prosecutors forfeit the property, they give 80 percent back to the local officials. Do you agree that state law enforcement officials should be allowed to participate in and benefit from forfeitures that are not permitted under state law?
  • 7% – Strongly agree
  • 23% – Somewhat agree
  • 28% – Somewhat disagree
  • 41% – Strongly disagree