Kansas Seized $21 Million From People Over the Past Two Years. Most Were Never Convicted of a Crime
Law enforcement in Kansas raked in $21 million through civil asset forfeiture over the past two years, according to a report released this week by the Americans for Prosperity Foundation (AFPF).
The report, drawing on a new state database, found that Kansas police seized $21.3 million from people in the state between July 2019 and the end of 2021. Of those cases, less than one-quarter of the owners have been convicted of a crime.
Under civil asset forfeiture laws, police can seize property suspected of being connected to criminal activity without charging the owner with a crime. Law enforcement groups say it’s a vital tool to disrupt drug trafficking and criminal networks by targeting their illicit revenues. However, civil liberties groups, news outlets, and a broad spectrum of advocacy groups have published numerous reports over the years arguing that asset forfeiture lacks due process protections and often targets everyday people, rather than cartel lords.
The AFPF report found that half of all reported seizures in Kansas had a value of $3,100 or less, meaning it would be impractical in those cases, if not a net loss, to hire an attorney to try and recover one’s property.
“Civil asset forfeiture laws imperil people’s rights to property and due process. This is especially true in states such as Kansas, where law enforcement receives all the proceeds from forfeited property,” AFPF-Kansas State Director Elizabeth Patton said in a press release. “The arrangement creates a compelling profit motive for law enforcement to seize people’s assets. Our analysis of the KBI data calls into question the motivation for most forfeiture activities in Kansas: to protect public safety or generate revenue?”
Take the 2017 case of Salvador Franco, a Las Vegas resident. After a drug dog alerted on Franco’s car, the Kansas Highway Patrol searched it. They didn’t find any drugs, but they did find $32,000 in cash under his seat. Franco said he was driving to St. Louis to buy a truck he’d been saving up for. The officers seized Franco’s cash, even though they never charged him with a crime.
More recently, she
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