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Congress looking to block police bonanzas from seized property - WND
Civil forfeiture laws have been popular in recent years, largely because law-enforcement agencies that have utilized them have enjoyed a bonanza.
Hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of property connected to a crime has successfully been confiscated.
But the U.S. Supreme Court recently threw a wrench in the works with its ruling against Indiana’s seizure of a $42,000 Land Rover from a smalltime drug dealer.
The unanimous ruling said: “Like the Eighth Amendment’s proscriptions of ‘cruel and unusual punishment’ and ‘excessive bail,’ the protection against excessive fines guards against abuses of government’s punitive or criminal-law-enforcement authority.”
Now Congress is trying to address the cash windfalls.
Reps. Tim Walberg, R-Mich., Jamie Raskin, D-Md., Thomas Massie, R-Ky., Tony Cardenas, D-Calif., Tom McClintock, R-Calif, and Bobby Rush, D-Ill., have proposed the Fifth Amendment Integrity Restoration Act.
The FAIR Act proposes a sweeping overhaul of federal civil forfeiture laws.
Under civil forfeiture, the government can permanently confiscate property without charging anyone with a crime. Worse, federal law even encourages law enforcement to forfeit property by letting the seizing agencies keep up to 100 percent of forfeiture proceeds, pointed out the Institute for Justice.
“For too long, tens of thousands of Americans have lost their hard-earned savings, cars, businesses and even their homes to an unjust civil forfeiture system,” said Darpana Sheth, a senior attorney at the Institute for Justice and who heads IJ’s End Forfeiture Initiative.
“The FAIR Act is a bold effort that would enact urgently needed reforms and end many of the appalling practices endemic to current law. Critically, the FAIR Act would end the perverse financial incentives that fuel forfeiture abuse,” Sheth added.
The proposal would ban the Justice Department from retaining forfeiture proceeds.
It would require that the assets, which topped $1.3 billion in 2018, go to the general fund.
It also would stop “sharing” programs that let local and state law enforcement collaborate with federal agencies and collect up to 80 percent of the proceeds, even if that would circumvent state restrictions.
It also would restore the presumption of innocence, forcing the burden of proof onto the government, and require a preponderance of evidence for the government to take action.
It also would provide legal representation for those who cannot afford it in civil forfeiture proceedings and limit forfeiture for currency “structuring” only when funds in question are derived from an illegal source or used to conceal illegal activity.
The bipartisan effort represents platform planks that have been endorsed by both Democrats and Republicans.
“On the state level, forfeiture reforms are currently under consideration in 12 states,” IJ said. “Missouri and Rhode Island have advanced legislation that would close the equitable-sharing loophole. Most sweeping of all, Minnesota, Nevada, and South Carolina, could completely abolish civil forfeiture, a move that would generally require a criminal conviction to forfeit property and would ban police from self-financing with forfeiture revenue.”
“Since the Institute for Justice began its End Forfeiture Initiative in 2014, 30 states and the District of Columbia have enacted forfeiture reforms,” the organization said.
LIBERTY HAS NO EXPIRATION DATEDemocrats wouldn't buy a clue if it was government subsidized.
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