Category: Crime

Civil asset forfeiture happens when law enforcement seizes property and money suspected of being related to a crime without any criminal conviction. Originally, it was a way for police to target drug trafficking and money laundering; today, it’s described as “policing for profit.”  The Institute for Justice’s November 2015 report, “Policing for Profit: The Abuse of Civil Asset Forfeiture,” gave Georgia a D- for its laws, pointing out that the state has “poor protections for innocent third-party property owners.” As a Daily Signal article recounts, law enforcement agencies share the proceeds while owners of the seized property face a complicated retrieval process. “For citizens whose cash, houses, or motor vehicles are seized by police in Philadelphia, the journey to… View Article

Opportunity’s Knocking Hard at Georgia’s Door

By Benita M. Dodd Six years after the economic downturn, the job market for able-bodied adults in Georgia remains one of the worst in the nation, according to recent figures. The challenge is not insurmountable, but strengthening the job market and Georgia’s economy requires the buy-in of this state’s policy-makers. Georgia has experienced the second-largest decline in the nation in the employment rate for 25- to 54-year-olds – the prime working years – the Pew Center reports. Today, there are 5.4 fewer working 25- to 54-year-olds out of every 100 than there were in 2007. Only New Mexico beat out Georgia for last place. Add to that the startling numbers that led to Georgia’s slate of criminal justice reforms:… View Article
The Heritage Foundation has produced a helpful factsheet that explains civil asset forfeiture. No. 4, especially, stands out: 4. What if I’m innocent? Surely, innocent people can’t have their property taken. Being innocent does not mean that a state has to return your property. The Supreme Court of the United States has held that the “innocent owner” defense is not constitutionally required. Furthermore, even in states where you do have an innocent owner defense, the burden is typically on you. Your property is presumed to be guilty until you prove that you are innocent and that your property therefore should not be forfeited. In other words, you must prove (1) that you were not involved in criminal activity and (2)… View Article
Foundation Vice President Benita Dodd wrote an op-ed on civil asset forfeiture in Georgia for the July 17, 2015, edition of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. It appeared behind the paywall (link here); the complete text appears  below. Theft by another name By Benita Dodd Dictionary.com describes “theft” as “the wrongful taking and carrying away of the personal goods or property of another.” That also describes “civil asset forfeiture” by law enforcement authorities. Law enforcement agencies have argued civil asset forfeiture is a necessary crime-fighting tool; others admit, more honestly, it’s a cash cow. Seminars list the profitable items to seize. News reports highlight agencies’ abusive spending on parties and vehicles, and even how police stop suspects’ vehicles in the cash-carrying… View Article
By Benita M. Dodd Susette Kelo was minding her own business when the city of New London, Conn., set its sights on her home. The city wanted to take the property and demolish the home, along with her neighbors’ homes, to make way for private economic development. Kelo decided to fight back. The Institute for Justice led her fight, joined by think tanks around the country, including the Georgia Public Policy Foundation. Remember the shocked property owners around the nation when the U.S. Supreme Court ruled on June 10, 2005, that the city could take Kelo’s home and land against her will? The Court said it was the states’ responsibility to toughen the laws on eminent domain that enabled governments… View Article
Civil Asset Forfeiture: Undue Process and Overdue Reforms” featured two great panel discussions featuring Grover Norquist of Americans for Tax Reform, moderator John Malcolm of the Heritage Foundation, Jason Pye of Freedomworks, Walter Olsen of the Cato Institute., Derek Cohen, senior policy analyst for the Texas Public Policy Foundation and Right on Crime, Robert Frommer from the Institute of Justice, and Evan Armstrong, legislative counsel to Rep. Tim Wahlberg (R-MI) and Joseph Rivers, who was a recent victim of asset forfeiture as he was headed to Los Angeles to begin a career in music. Rivers–who lost $16,000 after being questioned by a DEA agent–put a human face on asset forfeiture, and his story serves as a… View Article
Abstract Despite civil asset forfeiture’s noble intentions, the many stories of innocent victims and law enforcement abuses prove that the pendulum has swung too far in favor of law enforcement. In reforming forfeiture laws, however, we must be careful not to swing the pendulum too far in the opposite direction. The process should be made fairer and more transparent, the profit incentive of forfeiture should be abolished or severely constrained, and there should be greater oversight. Civil asset forfeiture should be returned to its original purpose: penalizing those who seek to profit from their illegal activities. If such funds were deposited into the general treasury, nothing would preclude law enforcement authorities from going to Congress or their state legislatures and… View Article
A new study from North Carolina’s John Locke Foundation suggests a market-oriented alternative to state professional licensing. Read the press release below: North Carolina could promote job creation, lower consumer prices, and boost opportunities for low-income families by replacing most of the state’s occupational licensing with voluntary certification. A new John Locke Foundation Spotlight report explains why. “North Carolina’s aggressive occupational licensing faces considerable concerns about its fairness, efficiency, scope, and more,” said report author Jon Sanders, JLF Director of Regulatory Studies. “A ready answer to these concerns would be to transition most jobs currently under state regulation away from licensure and into private certification.” Sanders releases his report as the state’s occupational licensing system faces questions on multiple fronts.… View Article
The Federalist has published an article that highlights the Georgia Public Policy Foundation’s role in bipartisan criminal justice reform in the state. It notes, “Georgia has distinguished itself as a front-runner on this issue. Although the overhaul of its justice system is far from complete, the Peach State has joined its Lone Star cousin as a success story that’s raising eyebrows across the nation. There’s something here for everybody to like. By reforming its corrections system, Georgia has already saved more than $20 million, with much bigger savings likely on the horizon. Its general inmate population is down, and juvenile detention rates have fallen even more. Through it all, crime rates have remained low.” The article continues: “I… View Article

I wanted to publicly say how much I appreciate Georgia Public Policy Foundation.  For those of you that will be entering the Legislature or are relatively new you may not quite yet appreciate how much we rely on Georgia Public Policy Foundation’s research and work.  As you know we’re a citizen’s legislature.  We have very little staff. They have been an invaluable, invaluable resource to us.  To put this [Forum] on and the regular programs that they do throughout the year make us better at what we do. (At the 2012 Georgia Legislative Policy Forum.)

Speaker Pro Tem Jan Jones more quotes