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Russ Caswell and his family nearly had their family-operated motel taken from them by local and federal law enforcement officials through civil forfeiture. 

Imagine you own a million-dollar piece of property free and clear, but then law enforcement agents announce that they are going to take it from you, not compensate you one dime, and then use the money they get from selling your land to pad their budgets—all this even though you have never so much as been accused of a crime, let alone convicted of one.

That is the nightmare Russ Caswell and his family faced in Tewksbury, Mass., where the federal government tried to take the family-operated motel they have owned for two generations through civil forfeiture.

Did you know that under civil forfeiture, law enforcement agencies can seize and keep property suspected of involvement in criminal activity?  Unlike criminal asset forfeiture, with civil forfeiture, a property owner need not be found guilty of a crime—or even charged—to permanently lose her cash, car, home or other property. 

Under federal law, law enforcement keeps all of the proceeds from civil forfeitures—creating a direct financial incentive to “police for profit” instead of the fair administration of justice.  Plus, a federal program called “equitable sharing” allows states with strong protections for property owners to circumvent their local restrictions in favor of more lucrative federal law. 

It’s time to stop “policing for profit” and reform federal civil forfeiture. 

Sign the petition below to show your support for reform.  We’ll sign you up for Liberty in Action to keep you updated on our efforts and let you know when to contact your elected officials.


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To learn more about civil forfeiture please see:

Policing for Profit: The Abuse of Civil Asset Forfeiture

Taken,” New Yorker

Florida Cops Made Millions Dealing Cocaine: The Latest Asset Forfeiture Outrage,” Forbes.com

The grabbing hand of the law,” The Economist

Court Rejects Justice Department Seizure of Motel,” The Wall Street Journal

When Did ‘To Serve & Protect’ Become ‘To Seize & Profit?’,” The Nation

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