Civil asset forfeiture is a law enforcement tool with a dark side. Meant to ensure that “crime does not pay,” civil forfeiture laws allow police to seize property suspected of being involved in criminal activity. But this tool often has low evidentiary standards, and in many states law enforcement can keep whatever they seize as profits – leading some agencies to treat civil forfeiture as a way to raise revenue, often at the expense of innocent property owners. As stories continue to surface of cops behaving more like robbers – seizing homes, money, and cars on dubious grounds – action is being taken. States have begun to reform their laws to protect their citizens' property rights, and the issue has now reached Congress. What is the outlook on forfeiture reform, and where do we stand today?
Representative Tim Walberg of Michigan's 7th District, recently brought stories of forfeiture abuses to the attention
of the House, and has called publicly for federal civil forfeiture reform. Radley Balko, an author, blogger, and investigative journalist for The Washington Post, writes frequently on law enforcement matters including civil forfeiture; he has brought to the public's attention many of the innocent victims of civil forfeiture abuse. Scott Bullock is a Senior Attorney at the public interest law firm, the Institute for Justice, who has litigated a number of forfeiture cases and is a leading expert in forfeiture law.
More About the Speakers
The Honorable Tim Walberg (R-MI)
Member, United States House of Representatives
Reporter and Blogger, The Washington Post and
author of Rise of the Warrior Cop: The Militarization of America’s Police Forces
Senior Attorney, Institute for Justice