Aside from Questions of Fairness, Forfeiture Undermines the Public’s Confidence in Law Enforcement
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
Washington, D.C. – The American Conservative Union Foundation (ACUF), in collaboration with six other center-right groups sent a letter to the Chairmen of the House and Senate Judiciary Committees calling for legislation to reform federal civil asset forfeiture. The letter was sent in response to Attorney-General Sessions’ new asset forfeiture policy directives.
“Civil asset forfeiture allows law enforcement agencies to confiscate property based on a mere suspicion that it’s somehow connected to a crime,” explained Pat Nolan, the Director of the Center for Criminal Justice Reform (CCJR) at the American Conservative Union Foundation.
“The burden is on the owner to essentially prove his/her innocence to get the property back,” said ACUF’s Pat Nolan. “This turns the whole concept of ‘innocent until proven guilty’ on its head.”
A separate problem with Civil Asset Forfeiture is that it creates a conflict of interest for law enforcement agencies, since they often keep a portion of proceeds in unaccountable slush funds. “It is often said that perception is reality, and the perception is that Civil Asset Forfeiture encourages ‘policing for profit.’ Whether fair or not, this notion undermines public confidence in our law enforcement officers, and ultimately puts them at greater risk,” noted Pat Nolan.
In 2014 (the most recent data publicly available), the value of assets seized using Civil Asset Forfeiture exceeded the value of all assets lost to burglaries in America, according to the Washington Post. “No wonder the public is skeptical,” said ACUF’s Deputy Director, David Safavian. “Congress needs to act.”
The letter sent to the Congress was signed by the American Conservative Union Foundation, Americans for Tax Reform, the American Legislative Exchange Council, the Faith and Freedom Coalition, FreedomWorks, the Heritage Foundation, and the Right on Crime Coalition. The groups are urging Congress to reform Civil Asset Forfeiture laws to protect the property and due process rights of American citizens.
For more information on this topic, or to contact your legislator about the need for Civil Asset Forfeiture reform, please go to: http://justice.acu.foundation/asset_forfeiture.
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David Safavian, Esq.
American Conservative Union Foundation