News Release

Nation's Criminal Defense Bar Disappointed in Announcement of Regressive DOJ Policy on Asset Forfeiture

Washington, DC (July 19, 2017) -- NACDL was disappointed in today's announcement by the Department of Justice that it is returning to ill-advised forfeiture policies that it had recently abandoned after much public scrutiny. Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced an expansion of law enforcement's ability to seize money and property from people and businesses who are suspected of criminal wrong-doing, but who have not been convicted or even charged with a crime.

The announcement was accompanied by new policy guidance reflecting the Department's acknowledgement that there are serious due process concerns regarding the methods and protocols of the federal government's seizure program. NACDL commends the Department for recognizing that more safeguards are necessary, but believes that systems that rely on self-policing are not adequate protections against a set of practices that have previously resulted in widespread abuses.

NACDL President Barry J. Pollack said: "We should not return to a system that routinely allows the government to take property from people who have not been convicted of any crime, or in some cases even charged with one. Blatant conflicts of interest exist when law enforcement and prosecutorial agencies reap financial benefits from the forfeiture decisions they make. There is broad bipartisan support in both chambers of Congress for curtailing forfeiture abuses. NACDL urges Congress to act to ensure that the Department of Justice does not return to policies that have resulted in so many well-documented abuses in the past."

DOJ's Announcement and Related Policy Documents here: 

To learn more about NACDL's extensive work in the area of forfeiture reform, please visit

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Ivan J. Dominguez, NACDL Director of Public Affairs & Communications, (202) 465-7662 or 

The National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers is the preeminent organization advancing the mission of the criminal defense bar to ensure justice and due process for persons accused of crime or wrongdoing. A professional bar association founded in 1958, NACDL's many thousands of direct members in 28 countries – and 90 state, provincial and local affiliate organizations totaling up to 40,000 attorneys – include private criminal defense lawyers, public defenders, military defense counsel, law professors and judges committed to preserving fairness and promoting a rational and humane criminal legal system.