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It Is Not Armed Robbery When Government Takes People's Stuff, It Is Civil Asset Forfeiture


  • Daniel Y. ROTHSCHILD

    () (Department of Economics, George Mason University, USA.)

  • Walter BLOCK

    () (Joseph A. Butt, S.J. College of Business, Loyola University, New Orleans, USA.)


Civil asset forfeiture allows the police to profit from crime instead of the criminal by seizing a person’s belongings that were used in illegal activity. The police profit from crime by keeping a percentage of the proceeds they seize. This ends up creating some perverse incentives, such as having more police resources go to seize people’s assets instead of fighting crime. Shifting police efforts away from combating hard crime into fighting so-called “victimless crimes” causes an increase in hard crimes as criminals substitute from soft crimes, such as selling drugs, into hard crimes where the chances of being caught are now lower.

Suggested Citation

  • Daniel Y. ROTHSCHILD & Walter BLOCK, 2016. "It Is Not Armed Robbery When Government Takes People's Stuff, It Is Civil Asset Forfeiture," Journal of Social and Administrative Sciences, KSP Journals, vol. 3(3), pages 219-230, September.
  • Handle: RePEc:ksp:journ4:v:3:y:2016:i:3:p:219-230

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Benson, Bruce L & Rasmussen, David W & Sollars, David L, 1995. "Police Bureaucracies, Their Incentives, and the War on Drugs," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 83(1-2), pages 21-45, April.
    2. Mark Thornton, 1994. "The economics of prohibition," Chapters, in: Peter J. Boettke (ed.),The Elgar Companion to Austrian Economics, chapter 51, Edward Elgar Publishing.
    3. Holcombe, Randall G. (Холкомб, Рэндалл Дж.), 2015. "A Theory of the Theory of Public Goods [Теория Происхождения Теории Общественных Благ]," Economic Policy, Russian Presidential Academy of National Economy and Public Administration, vol. 4, pages 196-207.
    4. Mast, Brent D & Benson, Bruce L & Rasmussen, David W, 2000. "Entrepreneurial Police and Drug Enforcement Policy," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 104(3-4), pages 285-308, September.
    5. William N. Butos & Roger G. Koppl, 1995. "The Varieties of Subjectivism: Keynes and Hayek on Expectations," Method and Hist of Econ Thought 9505001, University Library of Munich, Germany, revised 17 May 1995.
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    More about this item


    Theft; Government; Competition;

    JEL classification:

    • H0 - Public Economics - - General
    • H10 - Public Economics - - Structure and Scope of Government - - - General


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