A Solution to Asset Forfeiture?

Jonathan Kolber
2 min readOct 4, 2021

One of the most noxious practices in American law enforcement is that of asset forfeiture.

Under this practice, if police even suspect that an asset — any asset; your money, your car, your family home — was involved in the commission of a crime, you can be deprived of it.


In effect, since the asset isn’t a person, it has no constitutional rights. Get it? Consequently, if you want your asset(s) back, you have to sue to recover them. In practice this takes a lot of time, and can easily cost more than the asset is worth.

It’s a predatory practice that perverts the concept of justice. Some local police — habitually underfunded — use asset forfeiture are a way to raise money.

It’s important to note that many police departments do not do this. But the fact that any do so is a great injustice.

Perhaps there is a simple solution to this. Instead of individual persons suing to recover their seized assets, perhaps there should be a class action by many such persons, under the US Constitution’s Takings Clause of the Fifth Amendment, which says private property may not be taken for public use without just compensation. (That language is verbatim what was used by Donald Ayer, a U.S. attorney in the HW Bush administration, writing in a New York Times opinion piece recently.)

I’m not an attorney, and cannot offer legal advice. That said, were I one of those victims of what clearly looks like a “taking without just compensation”, I’d certainly research top class action law firms, and approach them about initiating such a case.



Jonathan Kolber

I think about how to create societies of sustainable, technological abundance. My book, A Celebration Society, offers one solution. It has been well received.