As introduced, this bill threatens government transparency and accountability. The ACLU of Connecticut opposes Senate Bill 970, An Act Concerning the Confidentiality of Evidence Seized in a Criminal Investigation, in its original form. We encourage the legislature to change this bill by amending it to instead become a vehicle to close the civil asset forfeiture loophole. We strongly urge the legislature to oppose Senate Bill 970 in its original form and replace its provisions with language to close the civil asset forfeiture loophole to protect the people of Connecticut.

In its original form, this bill would exempt from disclosure critical evidence in connection with crimes committed by anyone, including crimes committed by law enforcement officers themselves. It has historically been incredibly difficult for the public to access evidence in a criminal investigation of a police officer, and this bill would further exacerbate the issue of transparency and accountability when it comes to physical harm, and even death, at the hands of those who are charged with our protection.

Rather than defeating the bill altogether, however, the ACLU-CT believes the legislature should eliminate the bill's problematic secrecy language and instead use the bill as a vehicle to reform civil asset forfeiture, which allows police to take and keep someone’s property, by closing a loophole allowing Connecticut law enforcement to sidestep an important state law. In 2017, the Connecticut General Assembly unanimously passed a bill into law that allows Connecticut prosecutors to use civil asset forfeiture to get title to someone's property only after that person has been convicted of a crime, and only if that property is related to that criminal conviction. This was an incredible step forward for liberty and justice. A loophole, however, could allow Connecticut law enforcement to confiscate innocent people's property through the federal asset forfeiture program, called the equitable sharing program.
 
We encourage the legislature to replace Senate Bill 970’s current provisions with language that would prohibit Connecticut law enforcement agencies from referring, transferring, or otherwise relinquishing possession of property seized under state law to a federal agency for the purpose of the property’s forfeiture, otherwise known as federal adoption.

Status

Pending

Session

2019

Bill number

S.B. 970

Position

Other

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