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Articles Tagged with alabama

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police-line-3953745_1920-300x199A restaurant in Birmingham, Alabama, has been ordered to close until they obtain workers’ compensation insurance coverage for their workers and pay fines owed to the state.

The J. Clyde, a popular restaurant in the lively Southside district of Birmingham, closed its doors in early June after a judge ruled it was in contempt of court after operating without workers’ compensation insurance for its employees. A sign on the door, issued by Jefferson County Sheriff Mark Pettway, reads “Business closed by order of Circuit Court of Jefferson County for failure to provide workers compensation.”
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alabama-1611179_1920-300x287The Alabama House last week passed SB 191, which is designed to improve transparency in civil asset forfeiture cases in the state. Having passed both houses of the legislature unanimously, the bill now moves to Governor Kay Ivey’s docket for her to approve.

Civil asset forfeiture is the legal process where police may take possession of an individual’s property—such as a car, home, or cash—if it is suspected of being involved in a crime. In most states, criminal charges are not required for property to be taken, let alone a criminal conviction.
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alabama-1611179_1920-300x287After the Supreme Court ruled last month that the Excessive Fines Clause of the Eighth Amendment applied to states—essentially outlawing excessive police seizures—lawmakers in Alabama are moving forward with reforms of civil asset forfeiture in the state.

Civil asset forfeiture is the legal process where police can seize an individual’s property, cash, or any other assets if they are suspected of being used in a crime. In Alabama there are no requirements for law enforcement to report seizures, so the scale of civil asset forfeitures in the state is hard to assess. Additionally, in order to take an individual’s assets, law enforcement only needs to demonstrate the property’s involvement in a crime to the court’s “reasonable satisfaction.” This is a far lower bar than the “beyond a reasonable doubt” that is required in criminal cases.
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Civil asset forfeiture has become a central issue in the Republican races for attorney general and governor in Alabama. While incumbent Attorney General Steve Marshall has expressed support for the process and Governor Kay Ivey has shown little enthusiasm for reform, their opponents in the primary agree reform is needed.

The Alabama legislature recently attempted to reform civil asset forfeiture in the state. The first draft of the legislation would have required a criminal conviction before property could be seized. Law enforcement opposed this approach. In response, a revised bill was proposed, one which was more limited in scope but would have given more oversight to the process. However, even this limited bill failed.
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This spring, lawmakers in Alabama looked set to reform civil asset forfeiture. However, even though politicians and interest groups across the political spectrum supported reform, the reforms failed.

The libertarian Institute for Justice rates Alabama’s current civil asset forfeiture laws as “among the worst in the nation.” Civil asset forfeiture is the process where law enforcement can seize an individual’s property if it is suspected of being involved in a crime. In most states, a criminal conviction is not required before property is seized. In Alabama, profits from civil asset forfeiture are used to fund law enforcement. This has led to accusations of abuse and “policing for profit.”
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