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Articles Posted in Variety

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Philadelphia, PA

A recent report on the state of civil forfeiture in the U.S. has given Pennsylvania a near-failing grade, calling for greater reforms for the state’s civil asset forfeiture laws.

Civil asset forfeiture is a legal tool that gives law enforcement agencies the ability to seize assets from individuals suspected of committing a crime or being involved in illegal activity, even if the property owner has not been formally charged with wrongdoing.

In December 2020, the Institute for Justice (IJ), a Virginia-based public interest law firm, released the third edition of its “Policing for Profit” report, a document alleging unwarranted punitive seizures through the civil asset forfeiture process across the country.

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Detroit, MI

Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer vetoed 13 bills on December 30, including legislation that would have allowed airport authorities to use civil asset forfeiture to seize property from travelers without charging them with a crime.

Civil asset forfeiture is a process used by state and federal law enforcement agencies to seize property they believe is linked to criminal activity, even if the owner isn’t charged. The practice has been a key tool in the War on Drugs and is often touted as a critical means of financially hamstringing major drug traffickers.

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New York City, NY

The state of New York has received a middling grade for its civil forfeiture laws from a Virginia-based public interest law firm.

In the third edition of its “Policing for Profit” report, the Institute for Justice (IJ) has given New York a “C” grade for its asset forfeiture laws, praising the state for a recent set of reforms that strengthened transparency requirements, while calling for more change to the state’s forfeiture laws.

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pexels-john-guccione-wwwadvergroupcom-3564390-300x200Police in Florida seized nearly $266 million in cash, homes, vehicles, and other property using forfeiture actions in 2018, more than any other state, according to a new report published by the Institute of Justice.

A majority of the seizures are from civil asset forfeiture, a tool that allows law enforcement to take cash or property they believe was involved in a crime, even if the owner is never charged.

According to the Institute of Justice report, Florida law enforcement agencies collected $246 million through forfeiture actions and almost $20 million through federal equitable sharing programs in 2018, making it a leader in property seizures in the nation. For comparison, larger states like California and Texas collected an estimated $139 million and $90 million, respectively.

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pexels-sora-shimazaki-5668481-300x200The U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of South Carolina announced this week that it collected over $56 million in criminal, civil, and asset forfeiture actions for the 2020 fiscal year.

U.S. Attorney Peter M. McCoy confirmed that his office collected $53,839,927 in criminal and civil actions. Approximately $49 million was collected in civil actions, while $4.8 million was collected in criminal actions.

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