Police in Texas’s most populous county routinely ask drivers if they have cash in the car, only to seize the cash, accuse it of a crime, and drive away with it in their patrol car. Texas’s civil forfeiture law allows police and prosecutors to take cash from people they don’t arrest, and hand it over to prosecutors so that they can bend the power of Texas’s civil courts to keep the cash permanently in their own budgets. Forfeiture abuse in Texas is fueled by a perverse financial incentive: police and prosecutors can seize and forfeit cash from people, and that cash can then be used to fund salaries and overtime—their own paychecks. That kind of policing for profit isn’t just wrong; it’s unconstitutional.
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