Model Forfeiture Reporting Law

Model Forfeiture Reporting Law
Providing Data to State Legislators to Monitor Forfeiture

IJ client Russ Caswell and his family have owned and operated the Motel Caswell in Tewksbury, Mass., for two generations. The Caswells nearly had their property taken from them by local and federal law enforcement officials through a process known as “civil forfeiture."

Civil forfeiture—where the government can take and sell your property without ever charging you with a crime, let alone convicting you of one—is one of the greatest threats to property rights in the nation. To make matters worse, such forfeitures often fund law enforcement officials’ budgets, giving them a direct financial incentive to abuse this power. Unfortunately, law enforcement agencies frequently fail to disclose what they seize or how they use forfeiture proceeds. This lack of accountability to state legislators and the public only makes a bad problem worse.

State legislators must stand up for property rights and demand better accountability. IJ’s Model Forfeiture Reporting Act provides legislators with the information necessary for basic oversight of members of the executive branch—law enforcement agencies—who seize and forfeit private property under state and federal forfeiture laws.

The model is an initial step for state legislators to enact comprehensive forfeiture reform. It provides them the data to protect property and due process rights in their states with future forfeiture legislation.


Model Law

Reports, Maps, Charts and Facts

Forfeiture Reporting Act- Model Legislation (PDF)

Report: Forfeiting Justice: How Texas Police and Prosecutors Cash In On Seized Property (November 2010)

Report: Policing for Profit: The Abuse of Civil Asset Forfeiture (March 2010)

Related Case: Van Meter v. Turner
Report: Forfeiting Accountability: Georgia Law Enforcement's Hidden Civil Forfeiture Funds (March 2011)
Report: Inequitable Justice: How Federal "Equitable Sharing" Encourages Local Police and Prosecutors to Evade State Civil Forfeiture Law for Financial Gain (October 2011)
Report: A Stacked Deck: How Minnesota's Civil Forfeiture Laws Put Citizens' Property at Risk
Report: Rotten Reporting in the Peach State: Civil Forfeiture in Georgia Leaves the Public in the Dark 
Report: Arizona's Profit Incentive in Civil Forfeiture: Dangerous for law enforcement; Dangerous for Arizonans 
Related Case: State of Texas v. One 2004 Chevrolet Silverado
Related Case: United States v. 434 Main Street, Tewksbury, Mass. (The Motel Caswell)


Op-eds, News Articles and Links
Release: Abolishing the Civil Forfeiture Racket: National Legal Groups Join Forces to End Civil Forfeiture (May 24, 2011) Article: Federal Asset Seizures Rise, Netting Innocent With Guilty The Wall Street Journal (August 23, 2011)
National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers pass a resolution committing to work with IJ to end civil asset forfeiture (PDF) (May 20, 2011) Article: Despite law, schools get little of assets seized from crime suspects; The Indianapolis Star Online (August 17, 2010)

Article: End Policing for Profit; The Huffington Post (April 12, 2010)

Article: IJ Report Kicks Off New Campaign Against Civil Forfeiture Abuse; Liberty and Law (April 2010)
Article: Civil Asset Forfeiture; MotherJones (April 7, 2010)
Article: How the police grab your stuff; The Economist (April 1, 2010)
Video: Federal & Local Law Enforcement Agencies Try to Take Family Motel from Innocent Owners
Video: Ending Forfeiture Abuse: How States Can Be Tough on Crime and Respecting Property Rights; (January 29, 2013)

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