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Asset Forfeiture by Texas Law Enforcement

| April 7, 2016

While the abstract debate on civil asset forfeiture remains hotly contested in Texas, two elements often omitted from the discussion is “how much,” and “where” the practice takes place. Unfortunately, delineating civil forfeiture from that which occurs pursuant to a criminal conviction is impossible under current reporting law.

Still, insight into the volume and location of forfeitures is telling. It reveals where the practice may be overused, establishing a reliance on the proceeds of the legally dubious practice. Further, it also shows where and when standardized per-capita localities are aggressively pursuing more forfeiture, regardless of size. This report aims to demonstrate spatial patterns of forfeiture in raw and per-capita terms, and highlight potential misconceptions and problem areas.

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DEREK M. COHEN is Deputy Director of the Center for Effective Justice at the Texas Public Policy Foundation and the Right on Crime campaign. Cohen graduated with a B.S. in Criminal Justice from Bowling Green State University and an M.S. in Criminal Justice from the University of Cincinnati, where he is currently completing his Ph.D. dissertation on the long-term costs and outcomes associated with correctional programming.  His academic work can be found in Policing: An International Journal of Police Strategies & Management and the forthcoming Encyclopedia of Theoretical Criminology and The Oxford Handbook on Police and Policing, and has scholarly articles currently under review.  He has presented several papers to the American Society of Criminology, the Academy of Criminal Justice Sciences, and the American Evaluation Association on the implementation and outcomes of various criminal justice policy issues. Prior to joining the Foundation, Cohen was a research associate with University of Cincinnati’s Institute of Crime Science.  He also taught classes in statistics, research methods, criminal procedure, and corrections.

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