The Massachusetts State Advisory Committee to the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights undertook an investigation of this practice that included analysis of individual and aggregated cases, findings from independent researchers, testimony from non-governmental experts in non-profit organizations, and elected officials with a wide range of experience within the system of civil asset forfeiture in the state. We found that there are serious flaws at all levels of civil asset forfeiture practices and procedures.
In addition, we conducted a systematic analysis of a geographically weighted sample of cases of civil asset forfeiture filed across all 11 counties in Massachusetts between January 2019 and June 2022. We reviewed all documents available from the Massachusetts Trial Court website to ascertain the timeline between seizure and forfeiture filing, types of property seized, and the circumstances leading up to the seizure and forfeiture filing. We noted the location of the seizure, the county in which the forfeiture was filed, and any demographic or other characteristics of the individuals from whom property was seized. Given the amount of documents involved, we completed a review of a total of 45 cases during this time period.