Forfeiture Laws Take Aim at Major Drug Dealers But Hit Poor Most Often in Michigan

he Michigan Legislature is considering bills that would require law enforcement officials to secure a criminal conviction before taking ownership of private property through civil asset forfeiture. Some police and prosecutors are fighting hard against this important reform. Their critiques, however, paint a distorted picture of how forfeiture is actually used in Michigan.

In a recent interview with Michigan Radio, Bob Stevenson, the executive director of the Michigan Association of Chiefs of Police, objected to a conviction-before-forfeiture requirement. He argued that law enforcement needs to be able to seize and forfeit assets with minimal evidentiary proof in order to fight the drug war by depriving criminals of their illegal product and ill-gotten profit.