This is an issue that has been around for a while, and one of the illiberal legacies of the war on drugs. Police have broad powers to seize your property with very little due process, and the incentive to do so as they are generally allowed to keep the proceeds of these seizures in their budgets. John Stossel writes about the problem in his column today. Unfortunately, I see little bleed-through of this issue our of libertarian blogs into the partisan ones, though I do remember Kevin Drum doing something on it a while back. Knowing politicians, I hold out little hope that in a time when government budgets are under assault, politicians will voluntarily give up the power to grab operating funds off the street.
Most of the stories in the article were familiar to me, though this expansion of the concept was new:
[Radley] Balko has reported on a case in which police confiscated cash from a man when they found it in his car. "The state's argument was that maybe he didn't get it from selling drugs, but he might use that money to buy drugs at some point in the future. Therefore, we're still allowed to take it from him," Balko said.
Sounds like that Tom Cruise movie "Minority Report," where the police predict future crimes and arrest the "perpetrator."