UPDATE: This bill was amended to ensure property owners are afforded due process, and has passed out of committee. Governor Haslam signed this legislation into law on May 14, 2013. Public Chapter 382 goes into effect January 1, 2014.
What HB 1078/SB 0891 does: This bill would revise asset forfeiture procedures to require issuance of a forfeiture warrant prior to seizure of real or personal property. It also requires that the person from whom property is removed must be convicted of a criminal offense before the property can be forfeited.
Why ACLU-TN supports this bill: This bill would provide more rights and protection to property owners, fixing Tennessee’s current, broad civil forfeiture laws, which encourage policing for profit.
Law enforcement agencies should not be encouraged to pursue forfeitures to bolster their budgets, particularly at the cost of diverting resources from other public safety priorities. In Tennessee, local drug enforcement currently keeps 100 percent of forfeited property and there is no requirement to collect or report data on the use of forfeiture or its proceeds, creating an incentive for law enforcement to seize property.1
Current forfeiture laws stack the deck against property owners, essentially requiring them to prove their innocence. The government is only required to establish a preponderance of evidence that property is related to a crime. Property owners should not bear the burden of proving their innocence to retain property.
Asset forfeiture practices often go hand-in-hand with racial profiling and disproportionately impact low-income African-American or Latino people whom the police decide look suspicious and for whom the arduous process of trying to get one’s property back is an expensive challenge.
Every day, students in schools across the country face harassment and discrimination because of their real or perceived sexual orientation or gender identity. Feeling unsafe in school can lead to increased absenteeism, dropout rates, adverse health (including mental) consequences, and academic underachievement.
The Student Non-Discrimination Act will help to ensure that discrimination against lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender students has no place in our country’s public schools. The legislation builds on existing protections for students based on their race, color, sex, religion, disability or national origin, and will provide LGBT students and their families with legal recourse against discriminatory treatment.
Congress has introduced the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA), which could potentially result in the takedown of large amounts of non-infringing content from the internet, violating our First Amendment rights.
ACLU recently exposed IRS statements from internal documents which indicated the IRS didn't think it always needed a warrant to read our emails. And just one day after Tax Day, following intense public scrutiny and pressure from the ACLU, the IRS backed down.
But IRS Acting Commissioner Steven Miller still made no mention of whether text messages, instant messages and direct messages on social media remain fair game for warrantless review.
Under the the Electronic Communications Privacy Act (or ECPA), the outdated law on the books that is failing to protect our privacy in online communications, they could be. The IRS is one of many agencies—especially in law enforcement—who can still exploit outrageous ECPA loopholes that leave Americans subject to unconstitutional search and seizure of digital messages.
We can't allow the 4th Amendment to fall by the wayside. Tell Congress to close the loopholes in ECPA that allow the government to illegally monitor the contents of our private communications without a warrant—and to modernize our electronic privacy law in the process.
Send an email to your legislator today to make sure they get the message loud and clear.
In Tennessee, we are currently facing an all-out assault on reproductive freedom on many fronts, including a 2014 statewide ballot initiative that would amend the state constitution to state that nothing in it protects the right to an abortion. Tennesseans should be able to make private healthcare decisions without government interference.
It’s time to join together to protect Tennesseans’ reproductive rights. Sign the petition to say "I stand for reproductive freedom in Tennessee” and to stay abreast of a developing campaign spearheaded by women’s health, civil liberties and civic groups.
Thank you for using your voice.
Please enter your zip code to view the petition text.