Civil forfeiture allows police to seize — and then keep or sell — any property they allege is involved in a crime. Idaho law even permits the government to permanently take away an individual’s cash, cars, or real estate without ever being convicted of a crime.
Forfeiture was originally presented as a way to hinder large-scale criminal enterprises by diverting their resources. But today, with the assistance of deeply flawed federal and state laws, many Idaho police departments use forfeiture to benefit their bottom lines, making seizures motivated by profit rather than crime-fighting. And for people whose property has been seized through civil asset forfeiture, legally regaining such property is notoriously difficult and expensive.
In Idaho, the ACLU is teaming up with the Idaho Freedom Foundation to bring civil asset forfeiture reform to the state. Our goals are to ensure that a criminal conviction must be obtained before an individual’s possessions are permanently forfeited, that sales of such property are moved into general government funds and not police budgets, and to require police departments across the state to collect and report data on their use of civil asset forfeiture in their communities.
To prepare for the 2017 Legislative Session, we are looking for individuals who have personal experience with Idaho’s civil asset forfeiture procedures and would be willing to share their story with the ACLU. If you, or someone you know is interested in speaking with us, please contact Kathy Griesmyer, Public Policy Strategist at kgriesmyer(at)acluidaho.org or at 208-344-9750 x 1204.