Today, the Alabama District Attorneys Association announced the Alabama Forfeiture Accountability system, a voluntary data collection process for law enforcement to report on civil asset forfeiture in Alabama. The following statement is from Shay Farley, Policy Counsel for SPLC Action Fund:
"Increasing government transparency is always a positive step but as they say: “the devil is in the details.” Information about how much revenue is collected in Alabama civil asset forfeiture cases, or how those funds are used by the receiving governmental entities throughout the state, has always been secret, and it’s not clear this will change in this new system. The Supreme Court signaled in Timbs that courts should more closely scrutinize government fines and seizures, particularly when the government financially benefits from taking that money or property.
“Keeping a record does not ensure the government is complying with the Constitution. To protect individual property and due process rights, the Alabama Legislature must end the practice of unjustified governmental overreach. The criminal process already provides the government a path to seize and forfeit ill-gotten gains and property used for crimes. No one should lose their property for a crime for which they are not guilty or were not even charged.
“Alabama should follow the example of conservative states like South Carolina and Arkansas. A bill currently moving through the South Carolina Legislature to require a criminal conviction before property can be forfeited now has 103 co-sponsors (of the 124 members in the House). The Arkansas state senate recently approved a measure by a unanimous vote that creates a conviction requirement for civil asset forfeiture.”