A Stacked Deck

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A Stacked Deck:

How Minnesota's Civil Forfeiture Laws Put Citizens' Property at Risk

By Dick M. Carpenter II, Ph.D., Lee McGrath and Angela C. Erickson
January 2013

*Links to Figures from the report below


This report examines the use of civil forfeiture in Minnesota, a state with unusually detailed forfeiture reporting, and finds that the state’s civil forfeiture system stacks the deck against property owners. Not only do law enforcement agencies receive a cut of the proceeds from property they take, but state law also makes it hard for people to win their property back.

From 2003 to 2010, forfeiture revenues in Minnesota jumped by 75 percent, even as crime rates declined. By and large, these revenues did not come from large busts of criminal kingpins: The average value of forfeited property was only about $1,000.

Worse, new data from late 2010 show that few forfeitures are reviewed by judges and property owners rarely challenge forfeitures, likely because of the small values involved and the daunting task of bringing a civil lawsuit.

This lack of judicial oversight and a strong financial incentive in forfeiture create a situation ripe for abuse.


Press Release and Figures

Related IJ Cases

Release: New Report Shows Minnesota’s Forfeiture Laws Stack the Deck Against Property Owners (January 29, 2013)

Texas Civil Forfeiture - State of Texas v. One 2004 Chevrolet Silverado

Massachusetts Civil Forreiture - United States v. 434 Main Street, Tewksbury, Mass.

Figure 1: Percentage of Agencies Using Forfeiture California Civil ForfeitureUnited States v. 2601 West Ball Road, Anaheim, Calif., No. 12-CV-01345 AG-MLG
Figure 2: Total Value of Forfeitures
Figure 3: Types of Properties Seized
Figure 5: Percentage of Property Types Forfeited
Figure 6: Disposition of Seized Properties
Figure 7: Disposition of Seized Property
Figure 8: Criminal Activity Tied to Forfeitures 

Related Videos

Other Research
Video: Ending Forfeiture Abuse: How States Can Be Tough on Crime and Respecting Property Rights Report: Policing for Profit: The Abuse of Civil Asset Forfeiture
Video: Georgia Law Enforcement Often Refuses to Report Forfeiture Funds, a Violation of GA Law Report: Rotten Reporting in the Peach State: Civil Forfeiture in Georgia Leaves the Public in the Dark 
Video: Policing for Profit - The Abuse of Civil Asset Forfeiture Report: Arizona's Profit Incentive in Civil Forfeiture: Dangerous for law enforcement; Dangerous for Arizonans
Video: POLICING FOR PROFIT: Feds try to take innocent elderly couples' Mom-and-Pop motel   Report: Inequitable Justice 
Report: Public Opinion and Civil Forfeiture 
Report: Forfeiting Accountability: Georgia Law Enforcement's Hidden Civil Forfeiture Funds
Report: Forfeiting Justice: How Texas Police and Prosecutors Cash in on Seized Property

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