Prairie State Plunder
Illinois has one of the more aggressive asset forfeiture programs in the country. Ben Ruddell, criminal justice policy attorney for the ACLU of Illinois, pointed out in April that the “state’s laws in this area currently are grossly unfair. As preposterous as it seems, you can lose your property—including your car, cash, or even your home—without ever being arrested or charged with a crime.” The ACLU records cover only two years, but they provide a wide-angle snapshot of what kind of property Illinois police seized, how much it was worth, and where the proceeds flowed. They are also rare among records on asset forfeiture because they show the disposition of seized property. For all that the records reveal, they also show just how much we don’t know without stricter public reporting requirements.