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Cops, Inc.: How Civil Asset Forfeiture Threatens Property Rights by Encouraging Policing for Profit

ethics and public policy  

On Wednesday, March 30 from 7–9 pm, UMD’s Center for Ethics and Public Policy is sponsoring a public lecture by Dr. Dick Carpenter (Institute for Justice) on the problems with civil asset forfeiture. The event will take place at UMD’s Solon Campus Center Room 120.

This event is free and open to the public. 

One of the most significant threats to property rights today is civil asset forfeiture. Civil forfeiture allows, if not encourages, law enforcement to seize and permanently keep property without charging or convicting anyone of a crime. Since the 1980s, law enforcement agencies at all levels have forfeited billions of dollars with little to no oversight by the public or even elected officials. Drawing on more than a decade of research and litigation experience, this lecture will define and describe how civil forfeiture works, the extent of forfeiture activity, and how forfeiture laws can be reformed.

Dick Carpenter serves as a director of strategic research for the Institute for Justice. He works with IJ staff and attorneys to define, implement and manage social science research related to the Institute’s mission.

As an experienced researcher, Carpenter has presented and published on a variety of topics ranging from educational policy to the dynamics of presidential elections. His work has appeared in academic journals, such as Economic Development Quarterly, Economic Affairs,The Forum, Fordham Urban Law Journal, International Journal of Ethics, Education and Urban Society, Urban Studies, Regulation and Governance, and magazines, such as Regulation, Phi Delta Kappan and the American School Board Journal. Moreover, the results of his research have been quoted in newspapers such as the New York Times, Washington Post, and the Wall Street Journal.

His research for the Institute for Justice has resulted in reports such as Disclosure costs: Unintended consequences of campaign finance reform, License to Work, Private choice in public programs: How private institutions secure social services for Georgians, Designing cartels: How industry insiders cut out competition and Victimizing the Vulnerable: The Demographics of Eminent Domain Abuse. 


Funding for this lecture was provided by the Institute for Humane Studies through a generous grant from the John Templeton Foundation.  

For more information about this event and The Center for Ethics and Public Policy, see

March 2016.
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Cheryl Reitan,

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