Understanding Civil Asset Forfeiture

Aug 26, 2003


Dr. Don Boudreaux
Chair, Department of Economics
George Mason University 

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Civil asset forfeiture has generated an enormous amount of statutory and case law throughout this country's jurisprudential history.  Indeed, current federal and state laws that allow police departments to seize and forfeit assets and remit the proceeds to their own budgets have generated great controversy over the past decade.  Although the Supreme Court has acknowledged at least some potential for abuse of such provisions, the Court has been reluctant to curb state and federal power to forfeit personal property. 

Many underlying social and political interests complicate the debate.  This course will introduce Congressional policymakers to the history and development of civil asset forfeiture law in the United States, and familiarize the audience with the pertinent case law from this field as well as relevant legislative enactments on the topic.  Attendees will leave with a deeper understanding of the relevant legal and policy issues involved, as well as an economic framework with which to assess the effects of civil asset forfeiture laws.