John Oliver used his long segment on last night’s Last Week Tonight to tackle the abomination that is “Civil Forfeiture,” which is a formal name for the sad reality that police officers can just take your sh*t any time they want to. One expert in Oliver’s segment calls it “legalized robbery by law enforcement,” and that assessment will actually seem tame after you watch the video above.
As always, Oliver hammers this week’s topic with awful facts and terrifying anecdotes, and sprinkles in enough humor to keep viewers giggling through their angrily grinding teeth. Also, he uses Jeff Goldblum in a brilliant Law & Order parody.
Oliver runs through a number of harrowing tales of officers essentially mugging drivers during routine traffic stops — stripping them of thousands of dollars — but these aren’t far-fetched, isolated incidents. Police have taken more than $2.5 billion in cash since 9/11 from people who were never charged with a crime. Worse: police have the right to keep most or all of the money they seize under Civil Forfeiture laws. Even worse than that: in many of these cases, the property itself was taken to court, where it was (and this is fun) guilty until proven innocent.
But at least they can never take Goldblum’s Law & Order parody away from us. The only thing better? The outtakes below. Hilarious.