The front page of the Wall Street Journal today (Oct. 18, 2011) leads with this headline, “Motel Is Latest Stopover In Federal Forfeiture Battle” which tells the sorry story of a property owner’s battle to fight Federal Civil Forfeiture. For those of you who might not know the term, it means that the federal government can seize properties stained by crime even if the owners of those assets or that property face no charges. In the case of Mr. Russell Caswell, owner of Motel Caswell, a property and land worth millions that has been in his family since the 1950’s, would be taken from him. The same organization that fought against eminent domain, the Institute for Justice, is stepping up to fight this battle too.
And here’s a sobering statistic from the WSJ article, “The total value of cash and other goods forfeited to the Justice Department has risen 250% since 2003.” Kentucky has forfeited $4.78 million in “crime linked” assets to the Feds in 2010 alone.
And just in case you were wondering how the civil forfeiture case against Motel Caswell originated, again from the WSJ article, “(A federal spokewoman) declined to say how the motel case originated.” Funny how there never is much government transparency in these cases. Maybe it’s time to consider financially supporting the organizations-like the Institute for Justice-who fight these battles in the courts and the Bluegrass Institute who fight for your freedom from the grassroots.