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Jason Snead is a senior policy analyst in The Heritage Foundation's Edwin Meese III Center for Legal and Judicial Studies. Read his research.
Alabama is taking important steps to bring greater transparency to civil forfeiture, the much-criticized practice that allows property to be seized even without evidence of a crime.
Thursday - Lawmakers - Law - Enforcement - Leaders
On Thursday, lawmakers and law enforcement leaders in Alabama gathered in the State Capitol to announce a voluntary new reporting initiative, the Alabama Forfeiture Accountability System.
Starting Friday, officials across Alabama will document crucial data on civil forfeitures. This data will ultimately be available to the public in a searchable report, providing the clearest picture yet of how Alabama law enforcement agencies are using their civil forfeiture powers.
Database - Announcement
But how this new comprehensive database came to exist is as important as the announcement itself.
In most states, civil forfeiture reforms pit law enforcement groups against reformers, but Alabama is turning the tables on that dynamic. Thanks to the leadership and close collaboration of Barry Matson, head of the Office of Prosecution Services and the Alabama District Attorneys Association, Alabama State Rep. Arnold Mooney, and others, this project has secured the backing of state prosecutors, the Alabama Chiefs of Police Association, and the Alabama Law Enforcement Agency.
March - Alabama - District - Attorneys - Offices
Beginning March 1, Alabama’s district attorneys’ offices will track a wide range of case data, including:
The date and location of property seizures;
Seizure - Highway - Interdiction
Whether a seizure is related to a highway interdiction;
Which direction the car was traveling;
Offense - Seizure - Status - Case
The underlying criminal offense justifying a seizure and the status of any corresponding criminal case;
The final disposition of a case, the monetary value of forfeited currency and property, and which agencies received proceeds.
Data - Points - Alabama - Criminal - Justice
These data points will then be compiled by the Alabama Criminal Justice Information Commission, a division of the Alabama Law Enforcement Agency, and published as part of the “Crime in Alabama” report, an annual...
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