Mar 052016
 March 5, 2016

asset forfeiture marijuana arrestThe Florida Senate voted unanimously to approve SB 1044, which reforms the state’s “Contraband Forfeiture Act”. Introduced by Sen. Jeff Brandes, the bill now heads to Florida House of Representatives for a floor vote. The House companion, HB 889, passed its final committee of reference last week. The two bills are identical as amended and if HB 889 passes, civil asset forfeiture reform will head to Gov. Scott to be signed into law.

Civil asset forfeiture reform is a core national policy priority of the Drug Policy Alliance (“DPA”) and Florida is a state the group has specifically targeted for reform. Theshia Naidoo, Senior Staff Attorney for DPA, issued the following statement:

“This is a tremendous step towards reforming Florida’s outdated forfeiture laws. The unanimity of the Senate vote speaks volumes to the necessity of these important reforms.  The House needs to act quickly to pass this law when it meets next week.”

Attorney Ron Book, who represents DPA in the Florida legislature, said, “The broad, bipartisan coalition that Sen. Jeff Brandes built in the Florida Senate is what made these reforms possible. This legislation heads to the House with consensus amongst both parties, law enforcement, and reform advocates. We hope the House will act with the same unanimity that the Senate just did.”

The momentum of asset forfeiture reform legislation is the result of a compromise negotiated between law enforcement groups, led by the Florida Sheriff’s Association and reform advocates including DPA, Americans for Forfeiture Reform, Americans for Tax Reform, ACLU, the Institute for Justice, the Florida Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers and other organizations.

In an OpEd published in Sunday’s Daytona Beach News-Journal, Sheriff Jim Manfre of Flagler County, wrote, “HB 889 and SB 1044 seek to correct some issues with forfeiture, and do so in a way that still allows sheriffs and police departments to utilize this important crime-fighting tool. I hope the Legislature will pass these bills and that Gov. Scott will sign into law this set of reforms…”

President and founder of Americans for Tax Reform, Grover Norquist, in an OpEd published in the Ft. Lauderdale Sun-Sentinel, also advocated strongly for these reforms in Florida. He wrote, “Florida is not a tin pot dictatorship. It is also not a dystopia. It is an American state that has demonstrated respect for the taxpayer and respect for the rule of law. This makes the need to ensure civil liberties all the more important. Tallahassee should be a leader on civil asset forfeiture and now, with this new focus on due process, it has a perfect opportunity to do so.”

The full text of Sheriff Manfre’s oped can be found online at:http://www.newsjournalonline.com/article/20160228/OPINION/160229541/1010…

The full text of Grover Norquist’s oped can be found online at:http://www.sunsentinel.com/opinion/fl-gncol-oped03003-20160302-story.html

DPA’s fact sheet on civil asset forfeiture reform can be found online at:http://www.drugpolicy.org/resource/civil-asset-forfeiture

Source: Drug Policy Alliancemake a donation

About Johnny Green

Johnny Green is a marijuana activist from Oregon. He has a Bachelor's Degree in Public Policy. Follow Johnny Green on Facebook and Twitter. Also, feel free to email any concerns.
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  • 2buds4me

    ok, so what is the jist of these 2 new bills? You don’t spell it out and neither does the DPA or the DPA Link? Has someone read the 2 bills who could give us a synopsis?

    DPA says it’s better (what’s better?) Should be quantifiable.
    Sheriff’s say it’s better for them too – again – quantify.

    If the Sheriff likes it how can the DPA like it as well?

  • AAMCO

    hey new bill, where not going to tell what it does but there is a new, thanks weedblog

  • jontomas

    “The bill would require any seizure of a person’s assets to coincide with an arrest. If an arrest is not made, the property cannot be taken. Those types of property seized by law enforcement typically include things like cash, cars, jewelry and even homes. There would be limited exceptions to that rule.”

    “The bill also requires law enforcement agencies taking possession of a person’s property to demonstrate probable cause in court within 10 days after the seizure. It also increases the cost of filing fees, implements a $1,500 bond payable to
    the claimant if the forfeiture is not successful.”

    “The provisions are intended to protect property owners from unlawful seizures by ensuring law enforcement agencies are sure the assets are appropriate for forfeiture by making the process more expensive. The bond is intended to compensate claimants for costs associated with reclaiming their property. Under current law it is often not worthwhile for a person to spend potentially thousands
    of dollars to claim property worth less than the cost to retrieve it.”

    These are significant improvements that will have the effect of reducing the legal police robbery. – Kudos to DPA. – Marijuana legalization will largely end this monstrous abuse.

    • jontomas

      floridapolitics com/archives/203699-civil-forfeiture-bill-passes-senate-heads-house-floor

    • http://www.organibliss.com Doc Deadhead

      In 2015 the police seized more in value than all larcenies by real criminals.

      The biggest thief was law enforcement with ‘civil forfeiture’.

      Oh, and then we paid them to investigate the larcenies too.

  • Ben Marks

    do you have e pen bho cartridges?

  • http://www.organibliss.com Doc Deadhead

    This is great, unanimous is always good when it comes to limiting police power!