The good lords and ladies of the Alabama Legislature are considering a measure that forces cops not to steal stuff from people before they have been properly convicted. The polite term for this theft before conviction is called civil asset forfeiture, and if your police department defends this anti-liberty tactic, then consider yourself in occupied territory, with the enemy occupier being none other than your own police department.
Alabama Senators are considering a bill that would actually require cops get a conviction before they take your stuff from you. I know, it’s a novel idea, but this notion of innocent until proven guilty might one day catch on.
Apparently, though, the road pirates of Alabama (that’s “Alabama State Police” to you normies) don’t think it’s such a great idea. They claim it’s an actual effective tool to fight crime. And a US Attorney for the Middle District of Alabama is joining in the pushback against a bill that would prevent cops from taking stuff from people that were not convicted of a crime.
Yeah, that exists, in America, the land of the free, the home of the brave. Take that in folks.
|Alabama civil asset forfeiture reform calls for transparency|
….In Alabama, state Sen. Arthur Orr and Rep. Arnold Mooney, both Republicans, proposed legislation this year to require a conviction before assets could be seized. The bills ignited three weeks of debate and received so much pushback from police and prosecutors that they were shelved. On Thursday, Mooney introduced a new bill that requires law enforcement to gather detailed data on seized assets starting in 2019 and publish an annual report online beginning 2020. However, it wouldn’t change the current legal process.
Artur Davis, senior consultant with The Institute for Justice and former U.S. congressman involved in the negotiations, said the bill would move Alabama from being one of the least transparent states to having comprehensive data – although it still falls short of the reforms he and other advocates wanted.
Critics of civil asset forfeiture say it fuels policing for profit because law enforcement gains millions of dollars from individuals not always proven guilty of a crime.
Robert Bradford’s mother fought forfeiture proceedings after her husband faced drug charges and committed suicide in Chilton County in 2009. She proved her innocence and kept her house.
“The problem was that there was no conviction that had taken place, but they were asserting the property belongs to the sheriff’s department. But it’s not the American way at all,” said Bradford, 40, who now lives in the house.
Law enforcement and prosecutors argue civil asset forfeiture is necessary to disempower criminals.
“It’s a tool we have to use to fight crime,” said Clark Morris, a U.S. attorney for the Middle District of Alabama. “It’s not about taking innocent people’s property. It’s about making our communities safe.”
Barry Matson, executive director of the Alabama District Attorneys Association and the Office of Prosecution Services, said that nothing can be seized without a criminal investigation or kept without due legal process under Alabama’s 2014 civil asset forfeiture law. He supported transparency to maintain trust in the police, who have “a strong respect for the property rights of law-abiding citizens.”
But Sara Zampierin, an attorney with the Southern Poverty Law Center, said the process burdens the property owner to prove his or her innocence. Judges tend to rule in favor of police, who only have to prove to the court’s “reasonable satisfaction” that assets were criminally gained to keep them.
The law center and Alabama Appleseed, also an advocacy organization, found that property owners were never charged with a crime in a quarter of more than 1,000 civil asset forfeitures in 2015. Although police say forfeiture targets major drug kingpins, the amount of cash was less than $1,000 in around half of the cases. Law enforcement agencies received $2.2 million from state courts and $3.1 million from the federal government in 2015.