This bill would establish the Alabama Forfeiture Accountability and Integrity Reform Act and would set out the exclusive process for asset forfeitures in the state, such as requiring the conviction of a crime to seize assets.
We support this bill because the civil forfeiture system undermines constitutional policing, violating due process rights and property rights and is fundamentally unjust. Civil forfeiture allows police to seize — and then keep or sell — any property they allege is involved in a crime. Owners need not ever be convicted of a crime for their cash, cars, or even real estate to be taken away permanently by the government. Law enforcement can confiscate property from people and businesses without any criminal conviction. Because of deeply flawed federal and state laws, many police departments use forfeiture to benefit their bottom lines, making seizures motivated by profit rather than public safety.
This bill was filed on April 2, 2019 and assigned to the Senate Judiciary Committee. It received a unanimous vote in favor on April 3. It now moves to the full Senate for consideration. On May 28, it passed the Senate with amendments, and on May 29, it received a favorable report from the House Judiciary Committee. The amendments weakened the bill so that the practice of civil asset forfeiture has not been changed, but they will now require agencies to report on what they seize. On May 30, it passed and will go to Gov. Ivey to sign.
- 5/31/2019 - Civil asset forfeiture bill passes House, but is it enough? [Alabama Political Reporter]
- 4/16/2019 - Controversy boils over asset forfeiture bill [Rocket City Now]
- 4/15/2019 - Bill would change civil asset forfeiture's predatory practices by law officers [AL.com]
- 4/4/2019 - How Alabama's civil forfeiture laws left a couple living in a storage shed [Alabama Political Reporter]
- 2/28/2019 - After Supreme Court ruling, how will Alabama press civil asset forfeiture reform [AL.com]