CIVIL ASSET FORFEITURE: GUILTY UNTIL PROVEN INNOCENT | WHAT REALLY HAPPENED

CIVIL ASSET FORFEITURE: GUILTY UNTIL PROVEN INNOCENT

?Imagine going back home one day to find an empty house and all your belongings gone; or even worse, imagine being in your house and having your door suddenly smashed open by law enforcement officers in masks and being told at gunpoint that your personal possessions are being taken away.

It might sound like a trailer for the latest action film, but this is what happened to Annette Shattuck, a mother of four and a registered marijuana caregiver in Michigan. As she recently testified to the Michigan House of Representatives, her house was raided in 2014 while her 56-year old mother was taking care of her children. Everything from food, electronics, and vehicles to birth certificates, cash, and social security, insurance and public assistance cards was taken and has yet to be returned. As if this weren’t enough, she was left penniless due to a $1 million hold on all her bank accounts and has been unable to access the adoption subsidy for her special-needs son.

Civil asset forfeiture laws, which were popularized during the drug war hysteria of the 1980s, allow law enforcement to seize money and any other private property, regardless of whether its owner has been convicted of a crime. Not only does this constitute a violation of civil liberties and property rights, but it also fuels widespread abuse of power.

Law enforcement agencies are incentivized to confiscate goods since they get to keep 70-100% of the profits, which go towards new equipment and police militarization. As of 2012, the Asset Forfeiture Fund was estimated to hold around $6 billion, so it is no surprise that cases like Annette’s and racist property seizures in public spaces have become a jackpot for law enforcement.

The Drug Policy Alliance’s recent report, Above the Law: An Investigation of Civil Asset Forfeiture Abuses in California, reveals the troubling extent to which California law enforcement agencies have violated state and federal law.

Webmaster's Commentary: 

The last official act of any government is to loot its populace; and folks, we are absolutely there right now!!

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