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Commentary: Asset forfeiture Georgia’s dirty secret:

Special to SEGAZINE

There’s no doubt that Georgia’s law enforcement officials dislike strings that restrict civil asset forfeiture, which is the power of law enforcement to seize and keep property suspected of being involved in criminal activity. They’ve told state legislators that, time and again.

For the rest of Georgia, however, it’s a problem.

Unlike with criminal asset forfeiture, under civil forfeiture the owner of the property being seized does not have to be charged with a crime. Cash, cars, homes and other property can be taken without even filing charges, let alone convicting the property’s owner of a crime.

It’s a cash cow and an incentive for excessive enthusiasm, even abuse, on the part of law enforcement. Why? As an op-ed by Dougherty County Sheriff Kevin Sproul published in the Albany Journal last year noted, “Currently, seized property or cash may be used by the law enforcement agency that made the case against the offender.”

savannahnow.com.

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