Michigan’s civil asset forfeiture system under scrutiny

LANSING, Mich. (AP) — Legislation moving through the Michigan House aims to reform asset forfeiture in the state to make it more difficult and transparent.

Someone’s assets may be forfeited if the property is judged to be related to a crime, regardless of whether the owner is ever charged or convicted. But some say the proposed changes don’t go far enough to protect those whose property is taken when they never are judged to have committed a crime.

Gin Hency and Annette Shattuck are among those who say reforms need to go further. Both were raided by the St. Clair County Drug Task Force in July. Among the things taken in the raid were televisions, a bicycle and documents including driver’s licenses and insurance cards. Hency has been unable to reclaim her property despite charges against her being dismissed.

Here are cash and asset amounts forfeited for drug-related activities in Michigan each year since 2005:

2013 — $24.3 million

2012 — $26.5 million

2011 — $25.7 million

2010 — $21.3 million

2009 — $33.9 million

2008 — $25.3 million

2007 — $27.9 million

2006 — $26.8 million

2005 — $21.6 million

Source: Michigan State Police

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