Whitmer signs bills to limit asset forfeiture in drug cases

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Gov. Gretchen Whitmer delivers her 2019 State of the State address.

LANSING, Mich. (AP) — Law enforcement will be unable to permanently take ownership of cash and other property seized in drug cases unless certain conditions are met under legislation signed into law by Gov. Gretchen Whitmer.

She enacted the bipartisan bills Thursday at a ceremony in the Capitol building with lawmakers, the state attorney general and others.

The laws target civil asset forfeiture, a practice that critics say has been abused to fund police activities.

Starting in 90 days, the laws will prohibit assets taken in suspected drug crimes from being forfeited unless the defendant is convicted or the value of the money and property is more than $50,000, excluding the value of contraband.

Whitmer, a former prosecutor, says citizens have not been treated fairly nor given adequate legal protections, “and that changes today.”

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