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Civil Asset Forfeiture Summit

Understanding Forfeiture & When Innocence Does Not Help



On February 9, 2016, from 4:00 pm to 8:00 pm CT, Right on Crime, in partnership with The Institute for Policy Innovation, will host a Policy Summit on civil asset forfeiture followed by a cocktail reception in Dallas, TX.  

Register here to join us in Dallas or click here to register for the webcast.

Civil asset forfeiture is a mechanism that allows a very low burden of proof before law enforcement is able to seize property from individual citizens and businesses. The assets can then be re-purposed, often providing funding for the very law enforcement agency that seized it. While forfeiture began as a way to put criminal gains to a useful purpose, this government function has been expanded much too far, and now endangers individual rights and the integrity of law enforcement.

4:00 pm to 5:15 pm - Panel I
5:15 pm to 5:30 pm - Break
5:30 pm to 6:45 pm - Panel II

Panel I - When Innocence Does Not Help: How to Communicate about Civil Asset Forfeiture

Civil Asset Forfeiture is an issue shrouded in complexity and lack of understanding from the public. On this panel we will cut through the confusion and teach you how to communicate about this important issue.

Rep. Matt Schaefer - Texas House of Representatives
Matt is the current Texas State Representative for District 6. Schaefer is assigned to the Defense & Veterans' Affairs and Urban Affairs committees. He attended Cisco Junior College, where he played football. Then he attended Texas Tech University in Lubbock, Texas where he obtained a bachelor's degree in finance and a law degree from Texas Tech University School of Law.

Matt Simpson - Senior Policy Strategist, American Civil Liberties Union
Matt has served as a policy strategist at the ACLU of Texas since 2008. He advocates for civil rights and civil liberties at the state legislature and assists with local campaigns related to criminal justice reform, such as prison and jail policy, law enforcement information sharing, and ending the school-to-prison pipeline. 

Jason Pye - Director of Communications & Director of Justice Reform, FreedomWorks
Jason is the Director of Communications and the Director of Justice Reform at FreedomWorks. When he’s not fighting for the cause of liberty, he enjoys listening to punk rock, playing his guitars, watching baseball, and dreaming of the day the University of Georgia football team brings home a national championship.

Dan Isett (Moderator), Communications Director, Right on Crime
Dan is Communications Director of Right on Crime and the Center for Effective Justice at the Texas Public Policy Foundation. Prior to joining the Foundation, Mr. Isett served as Director of Communications and Policy for the Parents Television Council, Director of External Affairs at The Center for Education Reform and Executive Director of the Texas Home School Coalition. 

Panel II - Understanding Forfeiture Policy:  A Muddled History and a Path Forward

Most Americans do not understand why the government can take your property without so much as a criminal allegation, or how such a practice is constitutional.  On this panel we will discuss the history of forfeiture in the United States and in Texas, and what solutions might be employed to curtail abuses of the practice.

Sen. Konni Burton - Texas State Senate
Konni is the current Texas State Senator for District 10. She is assigned to the Veteran Affairs & Military Installations and Criminal Justice committees. Konni attended the University of North Texas, earning a BBA in Marketing. It was at UNT that Senator Burton also met her husband of 30 years, Phillip.

Sen. Don Huffines - Texas State Senate
As a fifth generation Texan, Don’s family has a strong legacy of hard work and faith in God. He and his wife of 28 years, Mary Catherine, and have raised four sons and one daughter. Don’s  family started out in Texas as farmers, working the land by hand. In 1924, his grandfather started an automobile business which he built into a company that his family still owns and operates to this day. His business, Huffines Communities, is one of the largest real-estate land developers in the Dallas/Fort Worth region.

Dr. Merrill Matthews - Resident Scholar, Institute for Policy Innovation
Merrill is a resident scholar with the Institute for Policy Innovation.  Prior to joining IPI in 2000, he was VP of Domestic Policy for the National Center for Policy Analysis.For nine years Dr. He was executive director of the Washington, DC-based Council for Affordable Health Insurance, and served for 10 years as the medical ethicist for the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center’s Institutional Review Board for Human Experimentation. He also serves as the vice chairman of the Texas Advisory Committee of the U.S. Civil Rights Commission.

Brad Cates - Former New Mexico State Legislator and Former Director of the Justice Department’s Asset Forfeiture Office
Brad is a privacy advocate, espousing adherence to fundamental constitutional freedoms, including free speech, and opposition to warrantless searches or seizures. He occasionally publishes articles on these subjects. Additionally, he serves as Counsel, House Judiciary Committee, NM Legislature.

Derek Cohen (Moderator), Deputy Director, Right on Crime
Derek is Deputy Director of Right on Crime and the Center for Effective Justice at the Texas Public Policy Foundation. Cohen graduated with a B.S. in Criminal Justice from Bowling Green State University and an M.S. in Criminal Justice from the University of Cincinnati, where he is currently completing his Ph.D. dissertation on the long-term costs and outcomes associated with correctional programming.

This event will be livestreamed on the website Click here to register for the livestream.

For questions contact Shannon Tracy -

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