The national grassroots group FreedomWorks, which has 6.9 million members and supports limited government, gives Michigan a “D” in a new report about civil asset forfeiture.
The report card, “Civil Asset Forfeiture: Grading the States,” bases their ratings on the standard of proof the government must meet to forfeit property, who has the burden of proof (the state or the individual), and what percentage of forfeiture funds go to law enforcement.
In explaining the grade for Michigan, the report says, “The standard of proof is too low; the government may forfeit property by showing a preponderance of the evidence. The government must prove the property owner was not an innocent owner, if the owner claims this defense. Law enforcement receives 100% of forfeiture funds. A package of eight separate reform bills has passed the Michigan House with strong bipartisan support.”
The bills raising the standard of proof (although not as high as what is needed for a criminal conviction) and establishing strong transparency laws passed overwhelmingly in the state House. They are now sitting in the state Senate where they have not been taken up.
Jarrett Skorup ([email protected]) is a policy analyst and Digital Engagement Manager at the Mackinac Center for Public Policy.
An earlier version of this article appeared at http://www.mackinac.org/21518. Reprinted with permission.