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Civil Asset Forfeiture Reform Act of 1995

This is a special bulletin from the Drug Reform Coordination Network. Please distribute as widely as possible, especially in academia. For information, e-mail "[email protected]" or contact: DRCNet, 4455 Connecticut Ave. NW, Suite B-500, Washington, DC 20008-2302 (202) 362-0030 (voice), 362-0032 (fax)

Congressman Henry Hyde (R-IL), Chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, has introduced H.R. 1916, the Civil Asset Forfeiture Reform Act of 1995.

During the past decade, seizure of assets has become a common practice of local, state and federal law enforcement agencies. Originally intended to combat large-scale organized criminal activity, the practice has been largely abused. According to Congressman Hyde, "Some of our civil asset seizure laws are being used in terribly unjust ways and depriving innocent citizens of their property with nothing that can be called due process. This is wrong and it must be changed."

Some forfeiture abuse cases, from Congressman's Hyde's press packet:

According to Congressman Hyde, in more than 80% of asset-forfeiture cases, the property owner is not charged with a crime, but the government usually keeps the property.

Asset forfeiture as currently practiced makes a mockery of the Bill of Rights. H.R. 1916 includes provisions to:

Please write or call your Representative and ask him/her to co-sponsor H.R. 1916. Please ask your two Senators to sponsor companion legislation. You can write to them at:

You can call your Representative and Senators (or find our who they are) through the Congressional Switchboard: (202) 224-3121.

The most effective letter you can send is one written by yourself. But if you don't have time, feel free to use the following attached letter (but don't forget to put in your own name and the name of your rep.):

Your Name 

Your Address                                                                            

The Honorable {Your Representative} 

House of Representatives 

Washington, DC 20515

Dear Rep. ____:

        I am writing to urge you to co-sponsor and vote for H.R. 1916, Congressman

Henry Hyde's much needed "Civil Asset Forfeiture Reform Act of 1995."

H.R. 1916 puts the burden of proof in civil asset forfeiture where it belongs

-- with the government. Under today's system, innocence is no protection

to property owners, when a forfeiture case has been initiated.
        The need to fight crime is simply not a valid excuse for looting the

property of innocent people. Please pass H.R. 1916, and restore the Bill

of Rights.


Your Name

You can learn more about asset forfeiture from the organization Forfeiture Endangers American Rights (F.E.A.R.), 265 Miller Ave., Mill Valley, CA 94941, (415) 388-8128; e-mail: [email protected], web: http://www.calyx.net/~fear. Congressman Hyde has recently published "Forfeiting Our Property Rights: Is Your Property Safe From Seizure?" published by the Cato Institute, (202) 842-0200.

Foundation for Drug Policy Awareness / Drug Reform Coordination Network 4455 Connecticut Ave. NW, Suite B-500, Washington, DC 20008-2302 Phone: (202) 362-0030 / Fax: (202) 362-0032 / email: [email protected]

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