Press release from the Tennessee Chapter of the American for Civil Liberties Union, December 1, 2015:
NASHVILLE – In anticipation of upcoming holiday travel across Tennessee, the ACLU of Tennessee today launched an initiative to collect information from people who have had their assets seized by law enforcement agencies while traveling across the state.
“Each year Tennessee law enforcement agents seize millions of dollars, simply by asserting that they believe the assets are connected to some illegal activity, oftentimes without ever pursuing criminal charges. Current asset forfeiture laws stack the deck against property owners, essentially requiring them to prove their innocence,” said ACLU-TN executive director Hedy Weinberg. “The thousands of people who will be traveling Tennessee’s highways for the holidays may not realize the serious financial risk they take when driving through our state.”
Between 2009 and 2014, law enforcement agents seized nearly $86 million from property owners in cash alone, earning the state a D- for its civil forfeiture laws in a recent policy report.
ACLU-TN is collecting information from people whose assets were seized by law enforcement via an online form, “Have You Had Your Property Unfairly Seized by Law Enforcement Officers in Tennessee?”
The survey is part of ACLU-TN’s ongoing campaign to reform and curtail civil asset forfeiture in Tennessee. The information collected will inform the organization’s public education and legislative efforts.
ACLU-TN, the Beacon Center of Tennessee, and state legislators will continue working together during the 2016 legislative session to reform Tennessee’s civil asset forfeiture laws.
ACLU of Tennessee’s civil asset forfeiture survey can be found here.
More information on civil asset forfeiture can be found here.