Available Data on Forfeiture

In 2013 the U.S. Department of Justice’s Asset Forfeiture Fund took in $2.01 billion.49 This was actually a significant decrease from 2012 when the fund received $4.17 billion, but a large portion of this difference can be attributed to the assets seized by federal agents as part of the Bernie Madoff scandal.50 Since 2008, local and state police agencies have received another $3 billion in forfeiture cases through the federal “equitable sharing” program.[51]

From 2009 to 2013, Michigan law enforcement agencies reported $123.5 million in forfeiture proceeds.[52] According to the Institute for Justice, documents obtained via Freedom of Information Act inquiries showed at least another $149 million in proceeds for Michigan law enforcement agencies from 2001 to 2008, an average of $18.7 million per year.[53] That means more than $270 million has been seized from Michigan residents since 2001. But, it is important to note, this figure only includes forfeitures related to drug crimes.[54] The total value of property forfeited from private individuals to the state is likely larger, but unfortunately unknown.[55] Additionally, based on the state’s forfeiture reporting data, there is no way to distinguish whether property was forfeited in connection with a criminal conviction.[56]