Mississippi is not alone in this practice. It is a common tool used to fight crime across the nation, but it’s one that has drawn scrutiny due to allegations of abuse.
A bill filed this legislative session seeks to revive a type of forfeiture called “administrative” asset forfeiture. This practice allows law enforcement agencies to seize and keep property valued at less than $20,000, and if the property owner does not contest and claim interest in the property in 30 days, the government essentially “wins” the case without a judge’s or jury’s input. This practice forces the property owner to sue in order to contest the forfeiture.
If the seized property is valued at less than what attorney and court costs would be to fight to keep it, then it makes no sense to fight it. Poor people caught up in this practice will also lack the money to hire an attorney to fight for their property.