AP/Nigel Duara

Over the last three decades, local and state police have seized roughly $3 billion from motorists merely suspected of a crime — no proof, no conviction.

Attorney General Eric Holder on Friday announced the end of the civil asset forfeiture program known as “Equitable Sharing” (called that because local authorities had to give 20 percent of their take to the feds). The program allowed law enforcement to stop motorists and seize their cash and cars. To get their property back, suspects had to prove they obtained the stuff legally. Civil rights groups across the political spectrum have objected to the warantless searches, which have helped police fund their departments and make wild purchases.

Crucially, police will still be able to seize material considered an imminent threat to the public, such as firearms, explosives and child pornography.

As The Verge points out, some jurisdictions will still allow civil forfeiture under state and local law.

— Posted by Peter Z. Scheer

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