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Articles Tagged with reform

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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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seedling-1062908_1920-300x200In 2013, Laurie Snyder was stunned when police raided her home. Living in a small town a little way north of Grand Rapids, MI, it was the last thing she was expecting to happen. Back then, Snyder was a caregiver who used medical marijuana—something which had been legal in Michigan since 2008. She grew it for herself as well as three others.

Never having been in trouble with the police before, Snyder was shocked. “I just was blown away that the police—it was like they came in and robbed me and said, ‘Have a great day!’ and left, and I was like—what just happened?”
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anchorage-71798_1920-300x193Under changes proposed by the Alaska legislature, the Division of Workers’ Compensation may be merged with the Division of Labor Standards and Safety to establish a new Division of Workers’ Safety and Compensation. If this proposal becomes law, it would be the latest in a series of changes to the state’s workers compensation system.

Elected governor in November 2018, Mike Dunleavy (R) has said the state is facing a $1.6 billion budget deficit. He is proposing budgetary cuts to the tune of $1.8 billion. With more than 700 full-time state positions facing the axe, the restructuring of the Division of Workers’ Compensation may be seen as part of these changes. The new department would have an expanded remit, not only covering workers’ compensation but also investigating wages, payroll, and working conditions.
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supreme-court-546279_1920-300x195In a unanimous decision, the Supreme Court yesterday ruled that the Constitution bars the use of “excessive fines” by states. This decision has the potential to dramatically change the way civil asset forfeiture is used by law enforcement agencies across the country.

Civil asset forfeiture is the process wherein law enforcement may take an individual’s property, cash, vehicle, or any other asset if that asset is suspected of being used in a crime. In most states, it is relatively simple for police to take an individual’s property but hard for innocent owners to get their property back.
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michigan-1191024_1920-300x200Yesterday, the Michigan Senate passed a bill which would require a criminal conviction before law enforcement can permanently take an individual’s assets using civil asset forfeiture.

This is the latest attempt by the legislature to reform civil asset forfeiture laws in the state. Last year, a similar bill passed the House but was never voted on in the Senate. Another bill introduced last year was intended to ensure police officers had adequate training when it came to seizing property. A third bill would have put local forfeiture processes under the domain of state law, making asset forfeiture consistent across the state.
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