Last month, Republicans in the Alabama state senate introduced a bill to require due process before police can seize property from a suspected criminal. Under current law, property can be seized without any charges, and in order to have the seized property returned, the defendant must prove their innocence.
In response, both the Alabama Sheriffs Association and Alabama District Attorney’s Association made their strong opposition to the measure well known in an op-ed. In the op-ed, it is continually claimed that civil asset forfeiture is simply about stopping criminals, and that creating a due process requirement would hinder law enforcement’s ability to stop drug dealers.
Right off the bat, the od-ed makes that claim that law enforcement only uses civil asset forfeiture to go after criminals, when that is laughably false, and Doug Valeska of Dothan, AL is proof of that. Valeska had over $25,000 seized from his small car dealership because a drug dealer bought cars from him.
The money seized from Valeska was obtained with absolutely zero evidence of him being involved in any illegal activity. The excuse given was that because the cars were bought with drug money, Valeska was somehow engaged in money laundering.
In the entire op-ed, the words “due process” were only mentioned once, right at the end, where it is claimed that civil asset forfeiture already has due process, without providing any actual proof.
This op-ed makes it clear that the top-brass of Alabama’s law enforcement are desperate to hold onto their ability to steal from their own citizens. It does bring in a pretty penny though, $2.2 million in 2015.