While some states have changed their laws, requiring conviction of a crime before any forfeiture, this remains a BIG problem on the federal level.
As many of you know, Attorney General Sessions recently directed federal law enforcement to increase and expand its civil asset forfeiture program, despite the strong bi-partisan legislative support that exists to limit the program based on due process and fairness concerns. Specifically, the recent directive from Attorney General Sessions reinstates some restrictions that had been placed on the program in recognition of these concerns—most notably restrictions on “adoptive seizures.”
In response to the Department of Justice’s decision to reverse course and embrace its controversial federal civil asset forfeiture program, several Representatives have filed amendments to a bill that will fund federal law enforcement agencies for the upcoming fiscal year. Right now, the House of Representatives will consider amendments early next week that would defund or limit certain aspects of the federal civil asset forfeiture program. Please contact your House member now to express support for the adoption of such amendments.
Under current federal law, law enforcement can seize property and money believed to be connected to a crime without convicting, or even charging, someone with a crime. Unfortunately, this system has led to egregious and well-chronicled abuses.
Early next week, the House will consider H.R. 3354. Division C of this bill authorizes funding for federal law enforcement agencies for the upcoming fiscal year. A number of Representatives have offered Division C amendments that seek to either prohibit federal funds from supporting the recent directive to increase the use of civil asset forfeiture or prohibit federal funds from being used to execute adoptive seizures. Specifically, Rep. Justin Amash has offered Amendment 70; Rep. Tim Walberg has offered Amendment 46; and Rep. Jamie Raskin has offered Amendment 67. All of these amendments effectively seek to limit or bar federal authorities from working with local law enforcement to seize assets in states that have reformed their practices.
These amendments represent important steps toward reigning in the widespread abuses of civil asset forfeiture practices and allow states to protect the rights of their citizens from federal intrusion.
Contact your House member NOW and ask them to vote YES on these amendments so that important concerns regarding the federal civil asset forfeiture program can be considered.