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Project June 11, 2019

Midwest Civil Asset Forfeiture Project

Authors:
Pontoon Beach Police Department. June, 2019. Pontoon Beach, Illinois. Image by Darrell Hoemann.
Pontoon Beach Police Department. June, 2019. Pontoon Beach, Illinois. Image by Darrell Hoemann.

As part of the Pulitzer Center's collaborative "Taken" project, the Midwest Center for Investigative Reporting examines whether laws to reform civil asset forfeiture programs across the Midwest have been effective in reducing the abuses in those programs.

The initial reporting focuses on Illinois, Indiana, and Iowa. Other Midwest states will be included through collaboration with other participants in the project.

The Midwest Center will also build an online infrastructure to coordinate data collection, analysis and distribution for reporting partners using a centralized platform. After data collection and analysis are performed and stories including data analysis are published, the data will be made available to the public.

The project compares how much was collected through civil asset forfeiture, before and after the reform laws were passed. The project will also identify the biggest benefactors from the programs, how the money was used and cases of wrongful seizures on the state and local levels. In addition, it will include comparisons to states that have not passed reforms.

The online publishing site will include tip sheets and summaries and visualizations of findings from each stat to make it easier for outside journalism organizations, media and public policy groups to use the work after publication.

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