Civil asset forfeiture is the resurrection of an old and hated practice. From Jeff Thomas at international man.com:
In 1066, my family were centred in Somerset, England, where, if a horse ran over and killed someone, or a boat capsized, and caused a drowning, that horse or boat was given over to the victim’s family, under “noxal surrender.”
Alternatively, if an animal or object were responsible for the death of a person other than its owner, it could be taken and sold, and the proceeds passed to the family of the deceased.
One can see the purpose here – to provide some sort of compensation for those aggrieved.
However, as readers will know, the Normans came over to the British Isles in 1066 and conquered much of England.
Subsequently, the practice of noxal surrender was formalized into English common law and enforced by the state.
And, of course, as we know, when the state takes charge of anything, no matter how insignificant, it eventually finds a way to turn that power into a means of state profit.
The state, by its very nature is a parasite. It produces nothing. It serves to extract value from those who do produce.
And so, beginning in the late eleventh century, the deodand was introduced into law. A deodand was defined as a chattel that had caused a death and was therefore guilty of a crime against God. The Crown would find the chattel itself guilty of being a deodand, would confiscate the chattel, sell it and give the proceeds to “a pious purpose” – not to the aggrieved party.
Once the aggrieved party was removed from the equation, it wasn’t difficult to expand the law to include not only the loss of the chattel, but a fine of equal value to the chattel.