Michigan Legislators Consider Making It More Difficult For Police To Steal

 

 

 

 

” Michigan legislators have introduced a pair of bills that would reform the state’s asset forfeiture laws, which currently enable law enforcement agencies to seize property from innocent people easily and profitably. Michigan police departments and district attorneys have padded their budgets to the tune of $70 million in the last three years via forfeiture, according to Lee McGrath of the Institute for Justice,* a law firm that litigates asset forfeiture.

  HB 5213 would require a criminal conviction before the police and prosecutors can forfeit property. Such a change is desirable because Michigan police and prosecutors have an unfortunate habit of taking peoples’ stuff even when the criminal charges that supposedly justify the forfeiture are dropped, dismissed, or otherwise jettisoned.

  HB 5081, meanwhile, would require seizing agencies to compile detailed reports on their forfeiture activities. Such a change is desirable because, apart from aggregates and anecdotes, information (on what is being seized, from whom, and why) is hard to come by. Also, transparency may encourage police to use funds more judiciously.

  Of course, the law routinely ensnares innocent people. We find out about them when they go to court. But some not-inconsequential number of forfeitures involve innocent owners who opt against a legal fight to recover items worth less than the cost of a lawyer.”

 

 

Reason.com has the story