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Liberty Project launches campaign to restore Constitutional rights

WASHINGTON, DC - The Liberty Project announced today the launch of an ongoing campaign to restore rights guaranteed all Americans by the Constitution. The program, which includes advertising, public relations, grassroots mobilization and Internet outreach, is designed to educate people throughout the United States and encourage them to take action in this fight to protect our fundamental liberties.

Well-intentioned legislatures, looking for a more expeditious route to punish lawbreakers, created laws designed to confiscate the spoils of illegal activity. Unfortunately, these laws give unparalleled and unchecked power to federal, state and local law enforcement officials, which they are using against innocent people as well as criminals. These draconian statutes allow enforcement authorities full discretion to confiscate property on mere suspicion. Owners of seized property are not eligible for appointed legal counsel. Time limits for contesting seizures are unreasonably short and are often coupled with requirements for owners to post bond against seized property. And contrary to a fundamental principle of American jurisprudence, it is the burden of the accused to prove their innocence.

"There is a rising tide of evidence seen every day in the media that our civil liberties are being eroded," said Phil Harvey, Liberty Project Founder. "We believe that the scanty protections afforded individuals under current law, coupled with overzealous and unchecked law enforcement, has created an environment that breeds abuse."

Take for example recent events in New York City. In an effort to reduce crime in the City, Mayor Rudolph Giuliani has instituted law enforcement procedures that assume individuals are guilty until proven innocent. Police in the city routinely detain individuals with little or no evidence of wrongdoing. In a February 24, 1999 editorial in the New York Times, Ira Glasser, executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union, notes the extreme to which these policies have been taken. According to Mr. Glasser, New York City law enforcement officials can now seize the cars of people accused of drunk driving and return the cars only if acquitted. Not satisfied with this, Mayor Giuliani has decided that he will keep the cars of those who are acquitted as well.

The Liberty Project, partnered with many other organizations, is seeking reforms that:

  • Give property owners procedural protections against unlawful search and seizure.
  • Under current laws and accepted law enforcement practices citizens are increasingly subject to capricious detainment, putting them in dangerous situations.
  • Restrict the government from seizing property of innocent owners­­those who were not aware of, or did not consent to, illicit activity on their property. While we support the right of communities to create and maintain safe neighborhoods, we believe that individuals should be given the opportunity to redress problems before their property is seized.
  • Provide appointed counsel for property owners who cannot afford to hire representation. Civil asset forfeiture law is a complicated and arcane area of the law. We believe that anyone facing the loss of their property based on these laws should have the right to legal counsel.
  • Redirect revenues from the resale of forfeited property to the legislative branch for appropriation. The founders of this country very wisely placed the power to raise and appropriate funds with the legislative branch of government to avoid abuse by the executive branch. That principle is being violated now, because law enforcement agencies can retain the proceeds from the sale of seized property. We believe that this practice should be stopped.

The Liberty Project is a 501(c)(3) tax-exempt organization, headquartered in Washington, DC. Concerned citizens established the Project to inform the public about the problems with current civil asset forfeiture law. More information on The Liberty Project can be obtained by visiting or calling 1-877-474-3200.

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