The Texas bill filed by State Senator John Whitmire to address the continuing abuse of asset forfeiture has progressed through both the House and Senate, and it is inching closer to becoming law. In April, Right on Crime profiled a report by the Institute of Justice dealing with asset forfeiture abuse in Georgia. Texas has similar problems with confiscated property and funds being used for non-law enforcement purposes – including the purchasing of alcohol for office parties.
Current Texas law allows a district attorney to appear at a roadside search and obtain a waiver for property seized before any court case or criminal charges have been filed. SB 316, however, would prohibit these waivers until notice of a civil suit has been appropriately filed. Additionally, the bill establishes a list of unauthorized uses for appropriately seized assets, enabling law enforcement agencies to better avoid mishandling these assets.