Let’s end policing for profit in South Carolina!

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Civil asset forfeiture allows the government to take and keep your property without even charging you with a crime.

This practice was sold to the public as a tool for taking the ill-gotten gains of drug kingpins, but it has strayed far from its alleged purpose. In practice, civil asset forfeiture too often targets innocent South Carolinians.

How can this be?

It is all about the money. Civil asset forfeiture incentivizes the pursuit of profit over the fair administration of justice. Under South Carolina law, law enforcement and solicitors keep 95 percent of the proceeds from forfeited property.

We’re not talking about pocket change. South Carolina law enforcement took and kept more than $17 million between 2014 – 2016 alone.

Some South Carolina law enforcement leaders even project in their budget how much money they plan to take from people the following year.

This is policing for profit, plain and simple.

It gets worse. Like most police practices in South Carolina, civil asset forfeiture disproportionately harms Black and poor people. For example, The Greenville News found that 65 percent of the civil asset forfeiture cases between 2014 – 2016 impacted Black people despite the fact that Black people make up just 27 percent of South Carolina’s population.

We can end this abusive practice!

Email your state legislator now and demand that they abolish civil asset forfeiture in South Carolina.

Message Recipients:
Your State Representative

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Your Message
Use the form to send a message to your legislator.

I am your constituent and urge you to support H. 3619, with the amendments summarized below.

Civil asset forfeiture allows the government to take and keep people’s property without even charging them with a crime. Civil asset forfeiture was sold to the public as a tool for taking the ill-gotten gains of drug kingpins, but it has strayed far from its alleged purpose. In practice, civil asset forfeiture too often targets innocent South Carolinians. It must be replaced with a criminal forfeiture process that will strengthen the fair administration of justice and better protect South Carolina’s most vulnerable.

For these reasons I urge you to support H. 3619 with the following amendments.

• The current version of H. 3619 unnecessarily creates a new forfeiture crime. This new crime should be eliminated from the bill. It is procedurally unnecessary to the criminal forfeiture process and could lead to abuse down the road.
• The current version of H. 3619 would exempt currency under $500 from seizure and forfeiture. This threshold should be raised to at least $1,500. A $1,500 threshold would move forfeiture closer toward its original intent – taking the ill-gotten gains from “drug kingpins.”
• The current version of H. 3619 does not fully protect innocent owners. The final bill should strengthen the protections for innocent owners and clarify the burden remains with the government.

Thank you for strengthening the fair administration of justice in South Carolina.

Sincerely,

[First Name] [Last Name]

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