YEO Policy Books 2015 Policy Book - Page 45

Repeal Civil Asset Forfeiture Act Origin: Texas State Legislature Bill Name/Number: House Bill 3171 Link: Click here Summary: This bill seeks to repeal the abuse of civil asset forfeiture and ensure that people’s property stays theirs. Talking Points & Important Information: • Under state and federal civil asset forfeiture laws, law enforcement agencies can seize and keep property suspected of involvement in criminal activity. Unlike criminal asset forfeiture, with civil asset forfeiture, a property owner need not be found guilty of a crime – or even charged – to permanently lose his cash, car, home or other property. Furthermore, most states and under federal law, law enforcement can keep some or all of the proceeds of civil forfeitures. • The Institute for Justice found that in 2008, the U.S Department of Justice’s Assets Forfeiture Fund held more than $1B in net assets – that is, money forfeited from property owners and now available for federal law enforcement activities after deducting various expenses. A similar fund at the U.S. Treasury Department held more than $400M in net assets in 2008. • In October 2014, the Washington Post published an article reporting about how thousands of local and state agencies are spending their windfalls — including “on luxury vehicles, travel, and a clown named Sparkles.” 2015 POLICY BOOK STATE LEVEL PAGE 45