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Mississippi

Mississippi

Mississippi earns a C- for its civil forfeiture laws:

Standard of Proof

Low bar to forfeit: Prosecutors must prove by preponderance of the evidence that property is connected to a crime.

Innocent Owner Burden

Stronger protections for the innocent: The government must prove third-party owners knew about criminal activity connected to their property.

Financial Incentive

Large profit incentive: 80% of forfeiture proceeds go to law enforcement when only one agency participated in the forfeiture; 100% otherwise.

Recent Reforms

  • (2017) HB 812: Adopted new transparency requirements; required law enforcement to obtain warrant within 72 hours of seizing property and request forfeiture within 30 days or tell owners how to retrieve their property.

Recommendations

  • End civil forfeiture
  • Direct all forfeiture proceeds to a non-law enforcement fund
  • Close the equitable sharing loophole
  • Strengthen transparency and accountability requirements

State and Federal Forfeiture Revenues, 2000-2019

In 2018 and 2019, Mississippi law enforcement agencies forfeited more than $1 million under state law. Between 2000 and 2019, they generated an additional $72 million from federal equitable sharing, for a total of at least $73 million in forfeiture revenue. Mississippi ranks 27th for its participation in the Department of Justice’s equitable sharing program. The state does not prevent state and local agencies from using equitable sharing to circumvent state forfeiture law.

At least $73 million in state and federal forfeiture revenue
2000–2019

Year Mississippi Forfeiture Revenues Dept. of Justice Equitable Sharing Proceeds Treasury Equitable Sharing Proceeds Total
2000 Unknown $1,310,763 $41,000 $1,351,763
2001 Unknown $1,227,097 $291,000 $1,518,097
2002 Unknown $1,026,045 $226,000 $1,252,045
2003 Unknown $1,546,593 $107,000 $1,653,593
2004 Unknown $4,278,744 $151,000 $4,429,744
2005 Unknown $3,242,740 $462,000 $3,704,740
2006 Unknown $5,526,173 $650,000 $6,176,173
2007 Unknown $3,254,022 $40,000 $3,294,022
2008 Unknown $2,696,655 $249,000 $2,945,655
2009 Unknown $5,525,236 $25,000 $5,550,236
2010 Unknown $4,184,022 $3,000 $4,187,022
2011 Unknown $3,974,483 $195,000 $4,169,483
2012 Unknown $3,455,417 $217,000 $3,672,417
2013 Unknown $4,563,405 $25,000 $4,588,405
2014 Unknown $2,514,532 $297,000 $2,811,532
2015 Unknown $2,720,866 $329,000 $3,049,866
2016 Unknown $3,843,931 $91,000 $3,934,931
2017 Unknown $3,284,266 $210,000 $3,494,266
2018 $718,173 $6,267,500 $730,000 $7,715,673
2019 $696,875 $1,826,102 $1,548,000 $4,070,977
Totals $1,415,048 $66,268,592 $5,887,000 $73,570,640

All revenue figures include both civil and criminal forfeitures. Revenues are not adjusted for inflation.

Mississippi's Forfeiture Transparency and Accountability Report Card

Tracking Seized Property

D+

Accounting for Forfeiture Fund Spending

F

Statewide Forfeiture Reports

F

Accessibility of Forfeiture Records

A

Penalties for Failure to File a Report

B

Financial Audits of Forfeiture Accounts

F

For full transparency and accountability grades, visit www.ij.org/TransparencyReportCards.

Forfeitures Under Mississippi Law: Key Facts

Median Value

UNKNOWN

Mississippi does not report property-level data necessary to calculate median forfeiture value.

Property Types

From 2018 to 2019, half of Mississippi’s reported forfeitures were of currency.

Civil vs. Criminal

UNKNOWN

Mississippi does not report whether forfeitures are processed under civil or criminal forfeiture law.

Expenditures

UNKNOWN

Mississippi does not report how forfeiture funds are spent.

Data Notes and Legal Sources

Data Notes

Property-level data are from the Mississippi Bureau of Narcotics’ forfeiture search website and represent value of forfeited property. Many agencies do not comply with reporting requirements, and the data lack key property-level criteria needed to calculate forfeited values, so the presented fiscal-year forfeitures are undercounts. Reported forfeitures were too few for further analysis. Equitable sharing data are from DOJ’s and Treasury’s annual forfeiture reports. Due to differences in reporting and accounting practices, state figures may not match aggregate numbers produced by the state or cover the same 12-month period as the federal data.

Legal Sources

Standard of proof: Preponderance of the evidence.

Miss. Code Ann. § 41-29-179(2).

Innocent owner burden: Government.

Miss. Code Ann. § 41-29-179(2); Galloway v. Cnty. of New Albany, 735 So. 2d 407, 411–12 (Miss. 1999); Curtis v. State, 642 So. 2d 381, 384–86 (Miss. 1994); 1994 Mercury Cougar v. Tishomingo Cnty., 970 So. 2d 744, 747–49 (Miss. Ct. App. 2007). But cf. Miss. Code Ann. § 41-29-153(a)(4)(B), (a)(7)(A) (placing burden on owner, but statute has been interpreted in above cases to place burden on government).

Financial incentive: 80% if one law enforcement agency participated in the forfeiture; 100% otherwise.

Miss. Code Ann. § 41-29-181(2).

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