Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Bill seeks to end police confiscation of property without due process

Bill seeks to end "policing for profit"

Representative Barrett Rich and Senator Joey Hensley have filed a bill (SB 0891 by Hensley and HB 1078 by Rich) called the Property Rights in Asset Forfeiture Act which would prohibit what has come to be known as "policing for profit." It should prevent the abuse where officers confiscate property or cash on some flimsy excuse against law-abiding citizens who then must fight to get it back. Often the person is unable to recover his property although he is never convicted of a crime.

The civil forfeiture laws allow Tennessee police to legally take cash from individuals based on suspicion that the money might be linked to drug trafficking. If an individual does not take legal action to recover the money, the police agency gets to keep it all – sometimes to pay the salaries of the officers seizing the cash. This sounds unbelievable in a nation where our rights are guaranteed by the Constitution and in a country that professed to follow due process. This sounds like something that would happen in a corrupt third world dictatorship, but it is happening right here in Tennessee.

Back in December Channel 5 news did a series of reports on this issue and combined them into an hour-long documentary. You can view the eight segments on this topic at this link: "Policing For Profit." Below is one episode of the series:
Representative Rich and Senator Hensley are to be commended for attempting to end this abuse. This is a good bill that needs to pass.  

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