Monday, January 6, 2014

Michigan Bill Would Take on “Policing for Profit”

Activist Post

A new bill in Michigan could curb a controversial police practice. Under civil forfeiture, someone does not have to be convicted of or even charged with a crime to permanently lose his cash, car or home to law enforcement.

Sponsored by state Rep. Jeff Irwin, the bill, HB 5213, would require a criminal conviction to forfeit property worth less than $50,000, related to the sale or possession of controlled substances. In addition, police officers and other government officials who participate in forfeitures that violate the bill would be “guilty of misfeasance in office.”

While the bill is narrow in scope, HB 5213 could significantly reduce the amount of property taken in Michigan. As Jarrett Skorup notes at Michigan Capitol Confidential:
In Michigan, if cash or property is valued at more than $50,000 a court proceeding is required for it to be seized. But if the amount is less than that, the seizing can be “streamlined” and taken administratively. Eighty-nine percent of assets were taken this way in 2012.