Maryland Reporter: Seizure of cash, property by police in drug crime would get harder

Fix Forfeiture executive director Holly Harris testified in support of SB. 161 before the Maryland Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee and defended the need to reform civil asset forfeiture laws in the state. The Maryland Senate is currently debating SB 161 which would tighten the criteria the government uses seize property and make it easier for exonerated individuals to reclaim their assets. According to the Maryland Reporter:

“The bill has support from a national organization for criminal justice reform. Holly Harris, an attorney who serves as executive director of the U.S. Justice Action Network and its subsidiary, Fix Forfeiture, rejected Cassilly’s assertion that major drug dealers would be beneficiaries.

“‘You talked about getting to the assets of kingpins with horse farms and jets and millions of dollars, but that’s just not the reality of the vast majority of seizures out there, which are typically $300 or less.’

“Harris’s organization partnered with ideologically diverse groups such as the ACLU, NAACP, Americans for Tax Reform, FreedomWorks, Faith and Freedom Coalition, Center for American Progress, Right on Crime, and the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, all of whom supported the proposed legislation.

“Naim Harrison, a victim of civil forfeiture, testified that after being stopped by Baltimore police several years ago under the suspicion he was distributing large amounts of marijuana, police confiscated several thousand dollars. As a result, he said he had to drop out of college.  Police wanted information and allegedly attempted to coerce Harrison as quid pro quo before finally returning his assets. Harrison was never proven to have possessed or distributed narcotics.”

You can read more in the Maryland Reporter by clicking here.

The Washington Times also discussed the hearing, noting how Holly set the record straight on the kinds of people the government is seizing property from: “Many of them are $300 or less, we’re not talking kingpins, we’re talking everyday citizens.”

You can read more in the Washington Times by clicking here.