Rotten Reporting in the Peach State
Rotten Reporting in the Peach State:
Civil Forfeiture in Georgia Leaves the Public in the Dark
By Dick M. Carpenter II, Ph.D. and Lee McGrath
Georgia has some of the worst civil forfeiture laws in the nation, a problem compounded by law enforcement agencies’ routine failure to report forfeiture revenue and expenditures as required by law. But a 2011 Institute for Justice lawsuit forced some agencies to begin filing reports, and a new requirement that agencies post these reports online is starting to take effect.
This interim report examines reports made public so far and concludes that forfeiture in reporting in the Peach State is still rotten. Reports filed by 58 law enforcement agencies for the year 2011 reveal $2.76 million in forfeitures under state law. By contrast, federal reports show 147 agencies taking in $32 million in forfeiture revenue in the same year under federal law. Moreover, many state reports that have been filed lack even basic details necessary for proper public oversight.
Georgia’s civil forfeiture laws desperately need reform, but they also need greater transparency.