This Wednesday we’ll be sponsoring a movie/panel discussion about Missouri’s asset forfeiture laws and the diversion of forfeiture money from Missouri’s school funds at the Blue Note in Columbia, Missouri. The event begins at 6pm and we’ll have discussion on the subject from Missouri Representative Chris Kelly (D-24), Jackson County Republican Committeeman Marcus Bowen (www.marcusbowen.com), attorney Dan Viets, Show-Me Institute scholar John Payne, and perhaps a couple more.
For those who aren’t familiar with the issues with asset forfeiture in Missouri, there are two large issues I wish to discuss primarily:
- Civil forfeitures are a legal way to take the property of people who are innocent and may never be charged or convicted of a crime. Not only are there substantial problems with lack of due process in these proceedings, but the civil forfeiture laws are used inappropriately and often for no other reason than to enrich law enforcement budgets.
- Missouri law directs forfeiture money to a state education fund that is used to fund school construction; since the early 1990′s, however, this requirement has been circumvented with ease through the use of a federal program that exists solely to circumvent state laws regarding the disposition of forfeiture money. We argue this is clearly illegal and indicates several basic, fundamental problems with governance at the state and local level in Missouri.
You may otherwise read my op-ed in the Columbia Tribune here. I have also blogged about Missouri forfeitures specifically:
- Civil forfeiture, SWAT Raids, and Missouri, redux (based on a presentation I gave at the July 23rd, 2010 meeting of the Boone County Democrats)
- A history of Missouri’s Asset Forfeiture Laws, 1985-Present
- From Illegal Forfeiture Funds to SWAT Raids in Missouri
After the discussion gets over around 7:30pm, we’ll raffle off some nifty items to benefit the families of victims of police brutality here in Missouri. A benefit show for our work on forfeiture reform will kick off at 9pm, featuring local bands like Lunar Mansion and DJs like Yvan Carrchua ($5 cover).
Hope to see you there. I should be able to livestream part of the discussion over Ustream, so stay tuned! And I should thank Richard King for graciously allowing us to use the Blue Note free of charge for this event.