Thursday, December 4, 2014

Tim Kaine on Seizure of Assets (Update)

From U.S. Senator Tim Kaine (to whom a petition I'd signed, supporting the "FAIR Act"), was e-mailed last summer)...the e-mail with signature graphic didn't come out right; let's try pasting the text into Word...

"Thank you for contacting me about the Fifth Amendment Integrity Restoration Act.  I appreciate hearing from you.

Both the federal government and all fifty state governments have laws governing forfeiture, or the legal seizure of property by law enforcement officials.  Forfeitures are divided into two categories:  civil, in which the property itself is illegal or is used to commit a crime, and criminal, when seizure of property is used as a punishment for a committed crime.  Federal law ensures due process for both civil and criminal forfeitures.  Seized assets are deposited in one of four federal accounts and can be used by the federal government or shared with state or local law enforcement agencies involved in the forfeiture.

On July 23, 2014 Senator Rand Paul introduced the Fifth Amendment Integrity Restoration (FAIR) Act. The FAIR Act seeks to reform current federal civil forfeiture laws by increasing the burden of proof necessary for the government to confiscate property.  The bill would also ensure application of state forfeiture laws by preventing state agencies from transferring assets to the federal government.  Finally, the law would require seized assets to be deposited in the Treasury's General Fund, rather than the Department of Justice Asset Forfeiture Fund or the Department of Treasury Forfeiture Fund.  The FAIR Act has been referred to the Senate Judiciary Committee.

I believe that the use of forfeiture must be carefully limited to avoid abuse.  In 2000, Congress passed the Civil Asset Forfeiture Reform Act to strengthen federal protections against potential abuses.  Any further reforms must balance safeguards against abuse with the needs of law enforcement officials.

Please be assured that I will keep your views in mind should the FAIR Act or any other legislation related to federal forfeitures be considered by the Senate.  Thank you again for contacting me about this important matter."
"Dear Ms. King:
Thank you for contacting me about the Fifth Amendment Integrity Restoration Act.  I appreciate hearing from you.
Both the federal government and all fifty state governments have laws governing forfeiture, or the legal seizure of property by law enforcement officials.  Forfeitures are divided into two categories:  civil, in which the property itself is illegal or is used to commit a crime, and criminal, when seizure of property is used as a punishment for a committed crime.  Federal law ensures due process for both civil and criminal forfeitures.  Seized assets are deposited in one of four federal accounts and can be used by the federal government or shared with state or local law enforcement agencies involved in the forfeiture.
On July 23, 2014 Senator Rand Paul introduced the Fifth Amendment Integrity Restoration (FAIR) Act. The FAIR Act seeks to reform current federal civil forfeiture laws by increasing the burden of proof necessary for the government to confiscate property.  The bill would also ensure application of state forfeiture laws by preventing state agencies from transferring assets to the federal government.  Finally, the law would require seized assets to be deposited in the Treasury's General Fund, rather than the Department of Justice Asset Forfeiture Fund or the Department of Treasury Forfeiture Fund.  The FAIR Act has been referred to the Senate Judiciary Committee.
I believe that the use of forfeiture must be carefully limited to avoid abuse.  In 2000, Congress passed the Civil Asset Forfeiture Reform Act to strengthen federal protections against potential abuses.  Any further reforms must balance safeguards against abuse with the needs of law enforcement officials.
Please be assured that I will keep your views in mind should the FAIR Act or any other legislation related to federal forfeitures be considered by the Senate.  Thank you again for contacting me about this important matter.
Sincerely,
Signature
Tim Kaine"