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Did you know that in Michigan and many other states you can have your property taken from you and not given back even if you are not charged with a crime.

It is called civil asset forfeiture.

I read a great article in Mackinac Center for Public Policy paper called The Michigan Capitol confidential titled Property Seized, Money Taken -  But No Crime, click on the link and check it out.

In Michigan residents who never are convicted or even charged with a crime enforcement can still hold on to their property.

Civil asset forfeiture is a legal tool by which law enforcement can seize property they claim to suspect has been involved in criminal activity and not always have to charge someone.

As stated in the Michigan Capitol Confidential article:

In Michigan, criminal fines were allocated to libraries, partly to avoid creating incentives that skew law enforcement more toward generating revenue than public safety. Asset forfeiture, however, is different. As a 2010 report from the Institute for Justice explained, “Law enforcement receives all proceeds of civil forfeiture to enhance law enforcement efforts, creating an incentive to pursue forfeiture more vigorously than combating other criminal activity.”

  • Those incentives contributed to more than $250 million in total forfeiture revenue being collected in Michigan since 2000. Reports from law enforcement agencies here show they collected over $20 million last year.

This has contributed to asset forfeiture becoming a revenue source for law enforcement agencies and big business in Michigan. Maj. Neill Franklin, a 34-year law enforcement veteran who led a drug enforcement team for the state police in Maryland, called the practice “extortion.”

“Today we’re taking property from people across this country and not charging them with crimes because we have no evidence on them that they are committing crimes,” said Franklin, who now serves as the executive director of LEAP (Law Enforcement Against Prohibition).