Asset Forfeiture Abuse

Across the country, law enforcement agents stop motorists – predominantly people of color – and seize the money in their possession simply by asserting that they believe the money is connected to some illegal activity, even without ever pursuing criminal charges. Under federal law and the laws of most states, they are entitled to keep the money they seize, which goes to fill police department coffers, pay salaries, buy new equipment, and fund other perks for the officers.

Easy Money: Civil Asset Forfeiture Abuse by Police

By Chloe Cockburn, Advocacy and Policy Counsel, ACLU at 1:16pm
On November 18, 2009, Shukree Simmons, who is African-American, was driving with his business partner on the highway from Macon, Georgia, back to Atlanta after selling his cherished Chevy Silverado truck to a restaurant owner in Macon for $3,700 of sorely needed funds. As Mr. Simmons passed through Lamar County, he was pulled over by two patrol officers who stated no reason for the stop, but instead asked Mr. Simmons numerous questions about where he was going and where he had been, and even separated him from his business partner for extended questioning. The officers searched both people and the car, finding no evidence of any illegal activity. A drug dog sniffed the car and did not indicate the presence of any trace of drugs. Notwithstanding the total lack of evidence of criminal activity and Mr. Simmons’s explanation that he was carrying money from selling his truck, the officers confiscated the $3,700 on the suspicion that the funds were derived from illegal activity, pursuant to their authority under Georgia’s civil asset forfeiture law. Despite the fact that Mr. Simmons mailed his bill of sale and title for the truck to the officer, he was told over the phone that he would need to file a legal claim to get his money back.
Settlement Means No More Highway Robbery in Tenaha, Texas

Settlement Means No More Highway Robbery in Tenaha, Texas

By Elora Mukherjee, Staff Attorney, ACLU Racial Justice Program at 11:22am

On Friday, the ACLU settled a class action lawsuit, pending court approval, against officials in the East Texas town of Tenaha and Shelby County over the rampant practice of stopping and searching drivers, almost always Black or Latino, and often seizing…

End Policing for Profit

By Vanita Gupta, Center for Justice at 5:18pm

(Originally posted on Huffington Post.)

Imagine a police officer pulls you over and tells you he believes the cash you're carrying was used to in some illegal activity and — based only on that hunch — he is going to take it…

Texas Statute Paves Way for Highway Robbery

By Chloe Cockburn, Advocacy and Policy Counsel, ACLU at 4:24pm

Last Friday, the ACLU and the ACLU of Texas submitted a brief to the Texas Attorney General's office arguing that a District Attorney in East Texas should be barred from using money unfairly taken from motorists under Texas's asset forfeiture law …

Statistics image