Prosecutor Keith Henderson Testifies on Capitol Hill Regarding DOJ Forfeiture Changes

On February 12, 2015, Floyd County Indiana Prosecuting Attorney Keith A. Henderson testified before the U.S. House Subcommittee on Crime, Terrorism, Homeland Security and Investigations Wednesday on behalf of the National District Attorneys Association and Indiana Prosecuting Attorneys. He discussed the effect of changes in policy to the federal asset forfeiture laws by the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) upon state and local law enforcement agencies. The federal changes severely hinder the ability of state and local law enforcement to go after the pocketbooks of drug dealers and drug traffickers by seizing their assets.

Prosecutor Henderson expressed concern that the DOJ issued its new policy based on unsubstantiated assumptions of wide abuse by locals without studying the policy’s impact on state and local governments. “Our members strongly support due process under the law and fully denounce any seizures of property and other assets of falsely accused individuals,” he told the committee.

“Going after these finances (of drug dealers and drug traffickers) not only makes our communities safer because the money is no longer available for use for other criminal activities but being able to access some of the proceeds from the seized assets goes back to agencies to enhance enforcement capabilities,” he said.

Another concern is the impact of the new policy on information sharing and intelligence gathering between the federal, state and local officials, he said. “Local departments rely on federal expertise when drug dealers use restaurants, garages, barbershops, and other cash businesses as places of sale to launder money.”

Henderson stated, “If current federal rules remain in place, state and local agencies will not be able to spend the resources to forfeit drug dealer profits.”

Henderson proposed potential remedies to the new DOJ policy including a comprehensive study to document abuse that has been alleged in the U.S. media and development of a comprehensive and detailed federal process for forfeiture cases.

Contributing Article From: Indiana Prosecuting Attorney’s Council

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