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Articles Tagged with Mississippi

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travel-778338_1920-300x200In February 2017, Ashley Tami Renee Phillips was stopped at Medgar Wiley Evers International Airport in Jackson, Mississippi by a Transport Security Administration officer. The TSA had discovered Phillips was carrying $30,000 in cash in her checked luggage. He seized the cash.

Law enforcement attempted to take her cash using civil asset forfeiture. This is the procedure where police may take an individual’s money or property if they suspect it is involved in a crime. In Phillips’ case, the Jackson Airport Police Department brought in their drug dog to test the cash. When the dog detected narcotics on the money, the police had found their justification to take the cash. This is despite a study demonstrating that more than 75 percent of currency in the U.S. has cocaine residue on it.
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sunset-49383_1920-300x225For more than three months, police departments in Mississippi have seized property from individuals with no legal authority after a forfeiture law quietly lapsed. Law enforcement agencies say they did not notice the lapse.

The law in question had allowed police agencies to seize cash or property suspected of being involved with illicit drugs unless the owner challenged it in court within 30 days of the seizure. This procedure is called “administrative forfeiture” and was used for seizures which totaled less than $20,000. For larger sums, “judicial forfeiture” was used. Judicial forfeiture requires law enforcement agencies to sue in court in order to have a judge sanction the forfeiture. The burden of proof for judicial forfeitures is also higher than for administrative forfeitures.
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