This sounds very much like what just happened in Texas:
- TEXANS UNDER ATTACK (Republic of Texas RAIDED by JTTF in Trumped up case… Assets, Papers Seized!) . . . think it can’t/won’t happen here? Think again. . . ~J
Michigan’s Civil Asset Forfeiture laws allows police to take property from citizens if they are a suspect in a crime. Police do not actually have to have enough evidence to charge them, however. In order to retrieve their property, they need to prove it was not connected in any way to a crime, a near impossible task.
Civil asset forfeiture laws have garnered a lot of attention recently, so much that the Department of Justice recently announced that they are tightening federal forfeiture laws to stop abuse.
However, states like Michigan have their own laws and Michigan’s critics say its one of the worst.
Thomas Williams, a 72-year-old, retired carpenter and cancer patient, is disabled and was growing marijuana plants in his home. He has a medical marijuana card which lets him grow up to 12 small plants for medicinal purposes.
In November of 2013, police broke down his front door with a battering ram. They wore black masks and camouflage and had their guns drawn. They accused Williams of dealing pot and ransacked his house, he told the Detroit Free Press. They took $11,000 in cash, his car, his television, and his cell phone and left.
Disabled and now without a phone, Williams was stuck in his house for three days before someone stopped by. He is still fighting to get his property back and risks losing his house.
Williams was never charged with a crime.
Despite mass criticism, police continue to defend the policy.
“Michigan’s asset forfeiture program saves taxpayers money and deprives drug criminals of cash and property,” said Col. Kriste Kibbey Etue, the director of the Michigan State Police, in a recent report to the governor and legislators. “Michigan’s law enforcement community has done an outstanding job of stripping drug dealers of illicit gain and utilizing those proceeds to expand and enhance drug enforcement efforts to protect our citizens.”
The seizures have proven to be their own incentives as the proceeds go directly into police coffers and get used however the departments please.
However, some critics are pushing back such as State Representative Jeff Irwin who is drafting legislation that would require a criminal conviction before assets can be seized.
“These forfeitures setoff fundamental constitutional alarm bells,” Irwin told the Detroit Free Press. “It’s a perversion of our right to due process.