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Dick Carpenter

Dick Carpenter

Cops, Inc.: How Civil Asset Forfeiture Threatens Property Rights by Encouraging Policing for ProfitDirector of Strategic Research for the Institute for Justice

April 5, 2017

Dr. Dick Carpenter serves as a director of strategic research for the Institute for Justice. He works with IJ staff and attorneys to define, implement and manage social science research related to the Institute’s mission.

As an experienced researcher, Carpenter has presented and published on a variety of topics ranging from educational policy to the dynamics of presidential elections. His work has appeared in academic journals, such as Economic Development Quarterly, Economic Affairs, The Forum, Fordham Urban Law Journal, International Journal of Ethics, Education and Urban Society, Urban Studies, Regulation and Governance, and magazines, such as Regulation, Phi Delta Kappan and the American School Board Journal. Moreover, the results of his research have been quoted in newspapers such as the New York TimesWashington Post, and the Wall Street Journal.

His research for IJ has resulted in reports such as Disclosure costs: Unintended consequences of campaign finance reformLicense to WorkPrivate choice in public programs: How private institutions secure social services for GeorgiansDesigning cartels: How industry insiders cut out competition and Victimizing the Vulnerable: The Demographics of Eminent Domain Abuse.

Before working with IJ, Dick worked as a school teacher and principal, public policy analyst and faculty member at the University of Colorado Colorado Springs, where he currently serves as a professor. He holds a Ph.D. from the University of Colorado.


One of the most significant threats to property rights today is civil asset forfeiture. Civil forfeiture allows, if not encourages, law enforcement to seize and permanently keep property without charging or convicting anyone of a crime. Since the 1980s, law enforcement agencies at all levels have forfeited billions of dollars with little to no oversight by the public or even elected officials. Drawing on more than a decade of research and litigation experience, this lecture will define and describe how civil forfeiture works, the extent of forfeiture activity, and how forfeiture laws can be reformed. 

Dick Carpenter Talk