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civil asset forfeiture

Daniel / FLICKR - http://bit.ly/1xMszCg

Today, the State House Judiciary Committee continues its review of legislation that would change Michigan's civil asset forfeiture laws.

Current law allows police officers to take and keep property from people even when they have not been charged or convicted of a crime.

Among other things, the legislation would require a criminal conviction before police can seize property under the civil asset forfeiture process. Supporters of this reform, like the Mackinac Center for Public Policy and the ACLU of Michigan, say it protects people's property rights and civil liberties.

A Michigan State Police file photo.
Michigan State Police

Last year, Michigan tightened requirements for civil asset forfeiture.

That's the law that allows the government to seize property when someone is accused of a crime even if they're not convicted.

This started as part of the war against drugs. It's become a lucrative tool for cash-strapped police departments and prosecutors. 

Laws passed last year require more transparency, but do not abolish civil asset forfeiture. 

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

At a meeting in Port Huron yesterday, targets of law enforcement drug task forces said those officers are abusing their power in Michigan.

Speaker after speaker claimed the raids by heavily armed police officers on their homes have resulted in extensive damage and scared their children.  During the raids, they claim officers tried to intimidate them.