Articles Tagged with Institute for Justice

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city-3195717_1920-300x200After a lively debate, the Metropolitan Council of Nashville, Tennessee has agreed to renew its participation in a controversial federal civil asset forfeiture program called “equitable sharing.” Opponents from both the left and the right argue the program encourages “policing for profit.”

Civil asset forfeiture is the legal procedure where law enforcement can seize an individual’s property or cash without filing criminal charges. In most states, all that is required is the suspicion that the property was involved in a crime. In a criminal case, the burden of proof lies with the prosecution. In Tennessee, in cases where a vehicle is seized, however, the burden of proving innocence lies with the property owner.
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agreement-business-businessmen-886465-300x200In 2014, Philadelphia police seized the home of Chris and Markela Sourovelis after their son was arrested for selling drugs worth $40 outside on their property. The police used a process known as civil asset forfeiture to take the property. This is a legal procedure where law enforcement can take someone’s property or cash if it is suspected of being involved in a crime. They can do so without a criminal conviction or even filing criminal charges.

According to the Institute for Justice (IJ), the use of civil asset forfeiture in Philadelphia has gone “unchecked” for years. Until recently, all funds from civil asset forfeiture seizures went directly Philadelphia’s law enforcement.
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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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