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The civil asset forfeiture transparency bill is a good start, but Alabamians still need much stronger protections
The Alabama House passed SB 191 last week, which would increase transparency around civil asset forfeiture in the state, sending it to Gov. Kay Ivey.
Alabama Arise Executive Director Robyn Hyden issued the following in response to the bill:
“SB 191’s passage is a good first step toward bringing more transparency to Alabama’s civil asset forfeiture practices. This bill will help shine some needed light on this process, and we hope the governor signs it. But simply gathering more information about the problem isn’t enough. We must change our state’s forfeiture practices to ensure they protect due process for all Alabamians.
Alabama’s current civil asset forfeiture practices allow too much room for abuse. Hundreds of Alabamians lose cash, cars and other property under this practice every year. Many of them are never convicted of a crime – or even charged with one. And many people can’t afford to hire a lawyer to challenge these seizures in court.
The original version of this bill showed the path to real reform. It would have required a felony conviction before property became subject to forfeiture in most cases. It also would have required the state to meet a higher burden of proof in connecting property to a crime. And it would have mandated a detailed, publicly searchable database laying out the full scale of seizures in the state.
These reforms are still needed, and we’ll continue to fight for them. We thank all of the Alabama Arise members and other advocates across the state who helped SB 191 win legislative approval. And we appreciate their determination to keep pushing for the comprehensive change that the people of our state need and want.”
Alabama Arise is a nonprofit, nonpartisan coalition of congregations, organizations and individuals promoting public policies to improve the lives of low-income Alabamians.