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AFP Signs onto U.S. Supreme Court Amicus Brief to Protect Rights and Oppose Excessive Fines

Sep 17, 2018 by AFP

Trenton, NJ – Americans for Prosperity joined a diverse group of national and state groups in signing the Drug Policy Alliance’s amicus brief in the United States Supreme Court case Timbs v. Indiana. The amicus brief filed details the position of a broad base of groups’ opposition to the flawed process known as Civil Asset Forfeiture (CAF). CAF is a policy that was originally intended by local and federal law enforcement to hinder or deter drug-trafficking and high-level criminal operations by seizing the assets of alleged perpetrators. In practice, this program often strips innocent taxpayers of their property with no recourse. Americans for Prosperity joins other signatories: National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, The Brennan Center for Justice at NYU Law School,  Law Enforcement Action Partnership, Independence Institute (Colorado), Libertas (Utah), Colorado Criminal Defense Bar, Drug Policy Forum of Hawaii, Rio Grande Foundation (New Mexico) and Alabama Appleseed.

Erica Jedynak, New Jersey State Director of Americans for Prosperity, released the following statement:

“Civil asset forfeiture is Robin Hood in reverse, robbing from the poor and disenfranchised to enrich the government.  While the process may have originally been intended to hinder or deter high-level crimes, it has turned into ‘policing for profit.’  This tool which police use to seize property without convicting or even charging the owner with a crime must end. Civil asset forfeiture is one of the most egregious intrusions by government in our time and our broad coalition of advocacy groups, from all ends of the political spectrum, signals the need for immediate action.”

Background:

Under civil asset forfeiture, law enforcement agencies may seize and then take title to cash, cars, and other valuables without charging an individual with – let alone convicting a person of – a crime. See here for AFP-NJ’s coalition letter in support of civil asset forfeiture reform legislation at the state level, S-1963/A-3442, which passed the Senate unanimously and awaits an Assembly Law & Public Safety Committee vote.

New Jersey has no statutory requirement to track or report forfeitures by law enforcement agencies in the state. However, studies in other states bear out who the victims are. In a Florida study, nearly a quarter of Latinos claimed that they or someone they know was a victim of civil asset forfeiture – four times more than Caucasians and African Americans. In Oklahoma, nearly two thirds of all forfeitures come from Latinos and other minority groups. According to the Institute for Justice, New Jersey district attorneys forfeited at least $72 million between calendar years 2009 and 2013–79% of which came from cash forfeitures–just at the county level alone.

For interviews with a representative from Americans for Prosperity, please contact AFP-NJ Communications Director Anna McEntee at AMcEntee@afphq.org or 973-370-6523.