ACLU's Kary Moss renews call for civil asset forfeiture reform

June 29, 2015

Kary Moss has long advocated for reform to the state’s civil asset forfeiture laws. After years of lobbying and advocacy, she and other supporters may finally see changes to the controversial laws.

The Senate is set to consider an eight-bill package, approved earlier this month in the House, that would require new forfeiture reporting, make it more difficult for law enforcement to keep seized property, and keep police from impounding a vehicle used to purchase less than one ounce of marijuana for personal use.

Moss, executive director of the ACLU of Michigan and a lecturer at the Ford School, was featured by Jonathan Oosting in an MLive article published last week about the recent reform efforts in the state. "The government has been able to seize people's property without ever having to prove a person committed a crime," she said. "There's just something wrong with this."

Moss also shared that she believes support from House Speaker Kevin Cotter may help the legislation move forward this session.

Asset forfeiture is a big source of revenue for law enforcement departments across the state. Police agencies in Michigan “reported $24.3 million in civil asset forfeitures in 2013,” according to the MLive story. However, eight percent of agencies never filed a report. When coupled with the caveat that the figures only include assetss seized in drug-specific cases, the actual number is likely much higher.

Kary L. Moss is a visiting lecturer at the Ford School. She has served as the executive director of the ACLU of Michigan since 1998.