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Home » Reports » Policing for Profit » Policing for Profit: Alaska

Alaska earns a D+ for its civil forfeiture laws:

  • Low bar to forfeit and no conviction required
  • Poor protections for innocent third-party property owners
  • As much as 75% of forfeiture proceeds go to law enforcement in most cases

State Forfeiture Laws

Alaska’s civil forfeiture laws leave much to be desired, earning a D+. In Alaska, as in all other states, the government only needs probable cause to seize property. Owners of seized property must then show by a preponderance of the evidence that their property is not related to criminal activity in order to get it back. Further, an individual making an innocent owner claim bears the burden of proving that she did not know about or consent to the alleged criminal activity giving rise to the property’s seizure. In most cases, law enforcement retains up to 75 percent of forfeiture revenues. Where forfeited property is something other than cash and worth $5,000 or less, law enforcement keeps 100 percent of the sale proceeds.

The Department of Public Safety is required to keep an inventory of items seized, but other state and local law enforcement agencies are not required to track or report their forfeitures, severely limiting transparency and accountability.

Show State Law Sources
Standard of proof

Government must show probable cause for seizure, and the owner must show that the property is not forfeitable by a preponderance of the evidence.

Resek v. State, 706 P.2d 288, 290–91 (Alaska 1985); see also Alaska Stat. §§ 17.30.110, .114(a).

Innocent owner burden

Owner.

Resek v. State, 706 P.2d 288, 291 (Alaska 1985); see also Alaska Stat. § 17.30.110(4)(A)–(B) (placing burden on owner with respect to any conveyance, like an airplane or car).

Profit incentive

100 percent if the property is worth $5,000 or less and something other than money, and up to 75 percent in all other cases.

Alaska Stat. § 17.30.112(c); see also id. § 17.30.122.

Reporting requirements

None.

State Forfeiture Data

No statewide data available. Agencies are not required to track or publicly report.

Alaska is the 10th best state for federal forfeiture, with over $9 million in Department of Justice equitable sharing proceeds from 2000 to 2013.

Federal Equitable Sharing

Alaska law enforcement’s participation in the Department of Justice’s equitable sharing program is relatively restrained, ranking 10th. Between calendar years 2000 and 2013, Alaska law enforcement agencies received more than $9 million in equitable sharing proceeds from the DOJ. However, more than three-quarters of the assets seized were confiscated through joint task forces and investigations, equitable sharing practices that will continue after the  policy change announced by former Attorney General Holder. In fiscal years 2000 to 2013, Alaska law enforcement also received $3.5 million in Treasury Department equitable sharing proceeds.

View Local Law Enforcement Data
YearDOJ
(calendar years)
Treasury
(fiscal years)
2000 $526,853 $26,000
2001 $498,980 $0
2002 $483,440 $3,000
2003 $910,534 $51,000
2004 $277,117 $0
2005 $389,951 $5,000
2006 $1,136,263 $136,000
2007 $625,837 $401,000
2008 $987,068 $27,000
2009 $717,641 $180,000
2010 $855,767 $0
2011 $859,125 $4,000
2012 $717,587 $141,000
2013 $485,111 $2,572,000
Total $9,471,274 $3,546,000
Average Per Year $676,520 $253,286

DOJ Equitable Sharing,
Adoptive vs. Joint, 2000-2013

Adoptions
Joint Task Forces and Investigations
Seizures
Proceeds

DOJ Equitable Sharing Proceeds, 2000-2013

Sources: Institute for Justice analysis of DOJ forfeiture data obtained by FOIA; Treasury Forfeiture Fund Accountability Reports. Data include civil and criminal forfeitures. Because DOJ figures represent calendar years and Treasury figures cover fiscal years, they cannot be added.

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