Saturday, April 23, 2016

Bryant Jackson-Green — It’s time Illinois ends civil asset forfeiture

Michigan, Minnesota and now Nebraska have reformed civil asset forfeiture – it’s time Illinois followed suit.

Nebraska has just become the latest state to end civil asset forfeiture, the practice by which law enforcement can take private property from people suspected of wrongdoing – even if they haven’t been convicted of a crime. Nebraska Gov. Pete Ricketts signed a comprehensive reform bill, which had been approved by an overwhelming majority of Nebraska’s legislature April 19.

The new law requires that Nebraska law enforcement obtain a criminal conviction before seizing private assets. It also requires Nebraska’s auditor of public reports to issue an annual report detailing the seizure, including information on when and where the seizure took place, the type of property that was taken, the crime the owner was charged with and the value of the property. Illinois would do well to follow Nebraska’s example – and that of other states, including Michigan,

Minnesota and New Mexico – and reform its asset forfeiture laws, too.

Right now, Illinois allows police to take and permanently keep private property they suspect was somehow related to criminal activity, but without having to prove the owner of that property used it in a crime, or even charging the property owner with any criminal offense. It then falls to the owner – if he or she has the financial resources – to challenge the seizure in court and prove the property wasn’t used in illegal activity.

Read the full article HERE.