The District of Columbia’s Committee on the Judiciary and Public Safety to hold public hearings on the Civil Asset Forfeiture Amendment Act of 2013, tomorrow at 10 am, Room 120 of the John A. Wilson Building, 1350 Pennsylvania Avenue NW, Washington, DC 20004.
Reason’s John K. Ross previewed the proposal this past January:
The bill, which eight of 12 council members either introduced or are sponsoring, would shift the burden of proof to the government and would require the city to provide a hearing within two days of a challenge—or automatically restore the property to its owner. Currently, the Metropolitan Police Department (MPD) keeps 100 percent of forfeiture revenues, an enormous incentive to police for profit. The bill would redirect all forfeiture proceeds to the city’s general fund—even for cases the MPD turns over to the federal government.
Importantly, the bill undermines a federal program called equitable sharing, which allows local police to sidestep state law containing strong protections for property owners and still retain 80 percent of forfeiture proceeds by turning their cases over to the Department of Justice. The bill also eliminates a fee the MPD charges to a property owner challenging a forfeiture, one that can sometimes exceed the value of the property. The bill requires the MPD to improve recordkeeping, notification procedures, and, in most instances, to return forfeited vehicles while an owner’s case is being adjudicated. John K. Ross, D.C. Council Proposes Pretty Decent Asset Forfeiture Reform, Reason, 15 Jan. 2013.