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Forfeiture Reform

State and federal laws allow law enforcement agencies to seize the property of an individual who has not been charged with a crime.  This practice tears at the heart of justice and fairness in our system and turns the fundamental principle that a person is innocent until proven guilty on its head.

It can be difficult and burdensome for a person to fight the necessary legal battle to regain possession of their property, even if that person is innocent.  Moreover, law enforcement agencies may profit from seized assets, allowing them to raise revenue at the expense of innocent citizens.

NACDL believes that asset forfeiture represents one of the most fundamental threats to the individual liberties of those accused of criminal activities as well as citizens not charged with any crime.  NACDL strongly encourages the reform of asset forfeiture laws.

 

John Oliver on Civil Forfeiture

Comedian John Oliver recently discussed civil asset forfeiture on his program Last Week Tonight with John Oliver, highlighting some of the consequences of the current law in various cases.

 

The Washington Post's Multi-Part Series on Forfeiture Reform

Part 1: Stop and seize: Aggressive police take hundreds of millions of dollars from motorists not charged with crimes - After Sept. 11, 2001, a cottage industry of private police trainers emerged to teach aggressive techniques of highway interdiction to thousands of local and state police.

Part 2: Police intelligence targets cash: Reports on drivers, training by firm fueled law enforcement agressiveness - One training firm started a private intelligence-sharing network and helped shape law enforcement nationwide.

Part 3: They found the law. Who won?: Many drivers faced a long ordeal in court to try to get their money back from police - Motorists caught up in the seizures talk about the experience and the legal battles that could take over a year.

Part 4: Asset seizures fuel police spending - Police agencies nationwide routinely buy vehicles and weapons with money and property seized under federal civil forfeiture law from people who were not charged with a crime.

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