225 Editorials Call For Civil Forfeiture Reform

Civil forfeiture allows law enforcement agencies to seize and keep cash, cars, and even homes, without ever needing to convict or charge someone with a crime. To challenge these abusive laws in courtrooms and statehouses across the country, the Institute for Justice launched an “End Forfeiture” initiative in July 2014.

Many laws are in dire need of reform. As IJ found in its new report, Policing for Profit, only seven states and Washington, D.C. earned a B or better for the civil forfeiture laws.  And just three states—Nebraska, New Mexico and North Carolina—have abolished civil forfeiture.

Fortunately, civil-forfeiture reform is a rare political issue that has found widespread agreement across the political spectrum. Since IJ began its initiative, there have been at least 225 editorials from 107 separate outlets that all support reforming—or banning—civil forfeiture. These outlets come from 35 states, plus the District of Columbia. (Updated May 24, 2017.)

Many prominent newspapers have skewered civil forfeiture in their editorials, including:

  • Wall Street Journal: “But for the government, the financial incentives of civil forfeiture have trumped concerns about the due process rights of citizens. The prospect of a big payday is leading to abuses, and law enforcement has profited from a system that treats citizens as guilty until they can prove their innocence.”
  • Washington Post: “Congress and state governments should demand that confiscated money not be used to fund police operations, and they should develop policies to limit the application of civil forfeiture to the kingpins it was supposed to target.”
  • USA TODAY: “Civil asset forfeiture is government at its absolute worst.”

The vast majority of Americans also support reform. Earlier this year, a poll by the Huffington Post and YouGov found that only seven percent of Americans support the status quo for civil forfeiture. By comparison, more than 70 percent of Americans think property should be forfeited only after a criminal conviction.

For more information, visit EndForfeiture.com, read IJ’s Policing for Profit report and check out our latest civil forfeiture cases.

The full list of newspaper editorials is below:

  1. “Stopping police asset-forfeiture predators,” Washington Times
  2. “Civil Asset Forfeiture Looks Like A Criminal Enterprise,” Investor’s Business Daily
  3. “Not-very-civil forfeiture,” Philadelphia Daily News
  4. “Presumed innocent,” Philadelphia Inquirer
  5. “What’s Yours Is Theirs,” Wall Street Journal
  6. “A cause for concern if civil forfeiture goes unchecked,” Deseret News
  7. “Police rake in bonanzas from people who have committed no crime,” Washington Post
  8. “State has a solid start on ‘policing for profit’ reform,” (Minneapolis) Star Tribune
  9. “Lawmakers need to fix ‘forfeiture’ law in 2015,” Des Moines Register
  10. “Thieves in Suits,” Richmond Times-Dispatch
  11. “Congress must end abuses of seizures by feds,” Des Moines Register
  12. “Civil forfeitures need more oversight,” LNP
  13. “Time is now to fix asset forfeiture,” Orange County Register
  14. “Comments draw scrutiny to city seizure ordinance,” Las Cruces Sun-News
  15. “Rein in asset forfeitures,” (Scranton) Times-Tribune
  16. “Time for civil-forfeiture reform,” The Washington Times
  17. “When police play bounty hunter,” USA Today
  18. “Loretta Lynch’s Money Pot,” Wall Street Journal
  19. “No conviction? Give back assets seized by agencies,” Albuquerque Journal
  20. “Broad use of civil forfeiture law by N.J. law enforcement needs scrutiny,” Times of Trenton
  21. “IRS to give back cash, but it’s not enough,” Des Moines Register
  22. “Go to the bank, go to jail,” San Francisco Chronicle
  23. “Texas’ asset forfeiture laws require changes,” Dallas Morning News
  24. “Pa. needs to protect innocent owners from civil forfeiture abuses,” Patriot-News
  25. “Forfeiting their rights,” Philadelphia Inquirer
  26. “Asset forfeiture / Legal robbery,” Press of Atlantic City
  27. “Shutting down civil forfeiture,” MetroWest Daily News
  28. “Eric Holder’s Good Deed,” Wall Street Journal
  29. “Legal stealing,” Gainesville Sun
  30. “First step toward reining in ‘policing for profit,’” San Diego Union-Tribune
  31. “Civil forfeiture reform is long overdue,” Citizen’s Voice
  32. “State’s asset forfeiture law needs makeover,” Las Vegas Review-Journal
  33. “Highway robbery,” Augusta Chronicle
  34. “Stop Seizing Assets Without Charges,” Valley News
  35. “Holder taps the brakes on civil forfeiture,” Star-Ledger
  36. “Seize the moment,” Philadelphia Inquirer
  37. “Reform civil forfeiture laws,” Detroit News
  38. “State must limit ‘policing for profit,’” Daytona Beach News-Journal
  39. “Forfeiture revision is a good start,” Daily Progress
  40. “Raise threshold for confiscation of assets,” Casper Star-Tribune
  41. “Right, left unite to curtail abuse of ‘asset forfeiture,’” Holland Sentinel
  42. “Tighten laws on seizures,” Lincoln Journal Star
  43. “Forfeiture laws need to be strengthened to promote transparency, protect accused,” The Gazette
  44. “Seizing cash without criminal charges is dead wrong,” Winston Salem-Journal
  45. “Senate wrong to kill forfeiture reform bill,” Daily Progress
  46. “Forfeiture laws should be amended,” Virginian-Pilot
  47. “Tighten Colorado forfeiture law,” Denver Post
  48. “Civil forfeiture laws needs an overhaul,” Keene Sentinel
  49. “A big upgrade over a bad law,” Nashua Telegraph
  50. “Prosecutors shouldn’t tie guilty pleas to forfeitures,” Des Moines Register
  51. “Legislators should override Mead’s forfeiture veto,” Casper Star-Tribune
  52. “Guilty until proven innocent,” Herald-Palladium
  53. “Limits needed on police property seizures,” Capital Gazette
  54. “Good news in New Mexico,” Washington Times
  55. “Stop policing for profit in New Mexico,” Santa Fe New Mexican
  56. “Property forfeiture should apply to those found guilty,” Albuquerque Journal
  57. “Legislature should support asset forfeiture reform bill,” Las Vegas Review-Journal
  58. “Forfeiture bill should be signed,” Las Cruces Sun-News
  59. “Remove the profit motive,” Des Moines Register
  60. “Separating outlaws from their stuff,” Anniston Star
  61. “Grassley takes on government ‘racketeering,’” Mason City Globe Gazette
  62. “Government should stop seizing property of the innocent,” Washington Examiner
  63. “Asset seizures too easy, profitable for police,” Orange County Register
  64. “Policing for profit?” Green Mountain Outlook
  65. “Stop grabbing property,” Detroit News
  66. “IRS should admit error in NC forfeiture case,” News & Observer
  67. “US Attorney Walker rightly drops IRS seizure case,” News & Observer
  68. “Protect citizens’ property,” Journal Record
  69. “Legislature must pass civil forfeiture reforms,” Las Vegas Review-Journal
  70. “Policing for profit,” Washington Times
  71. “Asset forfeiture abuses continue,” Orange County Register
  72. “Reform overdue for Pa. civil asset forfeiture law,” The Mercury
  73. “Crack down on civil forfeitures,” Detroit News
  74. “Police shouldn’t undermine justice,” San Diego Union-Tribune
  75. “Hold law enforcement accountable for forfeiture abuses,” Las Vegas Review-Journal
  76. “Dirty money,” Philadelphia Inquirer
  77. “The IRS’s Ill-Gotten Gains,” Wall Street Journal
  78. “A draconian remnant of the war on drugs,” Los Angeles Times
  79. “Change drug forfeiture laws,” Muskogee Phoenix
  80. “Lawmakers need to address forfeiture laws,” Chambersburg Public Opinion
  81. “Unreasonable seizure,” Columbus Dispatch
  82. “Gangster government wins in Assembly,” San Diego Union-Tribune
  83. “Reform police asset seizure program,” Cincinnati Enquirer
  84. “Congress must reform civil forfeiture laws,” Washington Examiner
  85. “Rein in law on forfeiture,” (Scranton) Times-Tribune
  86. “Toughen proposed forfeiture reforms,” Detroit News
  87. “Ohio’s civil asset forfeiture law ripe for reform,” Plain Dealer
  88. “Reform asset forfeiture,” Toledo Blade
  89. “State’s civil asset forfeiture laws must be changed,” Observer-Reporter
  90. “Civil forfeiture law must respect the rights of innocent in war against drugs,” LNP
  91. “Pa. civil asset forfeiture laws must be changed,” The Mercury
  92. “Forfeiting a right: Property should be seized only after a conviction,” Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
  93. “Reform seizure procedures,” Lincoln Journal Star
  94. “Rein in law on forfeiture,” Citizen’s Voice
  95. “Civil forfeiture and civil liberties must be balanced,” Knoxville News Sentinel
  96. “Don’t punish the innocent,” Philadelphia Inquirer
  97. “Fix Virginia’s policing-for-profit,” Richmond Times-Dispatch
  98. “Policing should not be done for profit,” Orange County Register
  99. “Forfeiting justice to over mighty officials,” Washington Examiner
  100. “Civil forfeiture law a path to mistrust,” News Journal
  101. “Presidential candidates’ policies must include civil forfeiture reform,” Las Vegas Review-Journal
  102. “A case study in the need for reform,” Richmond Times-Dispatch 
  103. “More than burglars,” Augusta Chronicle
  104. “Rein in civil forfeitures to curb law enforcement abuse,” Palm Beach Post
  105. “Keep working to fix forfeiture laws,” The Gazette 
  106. “Patrol forfeitures target out-of-state drivers,” Des Moines Register 
  107. “Civil asset forfeiture process needs to be more transparent,” Victoria Advocate 
  108. “Forfeiture law remains repulsive,” The Daily Progress 
  109. “A welcome respite from the feds seizing people’s property,” The Denver Post 
  110. “An unexpected New Year’s present from Congress: Property rights,” Washington Examiner
  111. “Less Policing for Profit,” The Wall Street Journal 
  112. “Federal spending bill rightly diminishes civil forfeiture program,” Las Vegas Review-Journal 
  113. “Force awakens as plunder threatened,” Orange County Register
  114. “2016 New Year’s resolutions for Congress,” Washington Examiner 
  115. “Presumption of innocence,” Columbus Dispatch 
  116. “A big-picture vision for Iowa,” Des Moines Register 
  117. “Join chorus, demand due process in forfeiture laws,” The Dispatch and The Rock Island Argus 
  118. “Override Hogan’s vetoes,” Baltimore Sun 
  119. “Civil asset forfeiture cries out for reform,” Washington Examiner 
  120. “Let Wiese case spark reexamination of Illinois’ forfeiture laws,” The Dispatch and The Rock Island Argus 
  121. “Support for forfeiture reform,” Frederick News-Post 
  122. “Asset forfeiture steals due process rights,” Las Vegas Review-Journal 
  123. “An overdue remedy for police profit,” The Ledger
  124. “Uncivil laws: Reforming forfeiture in NH,” New Hampshire Union-Leader 
  125. “Restoring balance to asset seizures,” Daytona Beach News-Journal 
  126. “The troubling return of an asset seizure program,” Charlotte Observer 
  127. “Asset forfeiture,” Las Vegas Review-Journal  
  128. “Criminal seizures: A flawed federal asset forfeiture program returns,” Pittsburgh Post-Gazette 
  129. “Policing for profit amounts to criminal injustice,” San Diego Union-Tribune 
  130. “Share and share alike with seized assets,” Orange County Register 
  131. “Join grandmother’s fight, back asset forfeiture reform,” The Dispatch and The Rock Island Argus 
  132. “Government shouldn’t seize assets without greater proof of crime,” Chicago Sun-Times 
  133. “Nebraska ends policing for profit,” Washington Examiner  
  134. “Civil forfeiture law helps keep authorities honest,” McCook County Gazette 
  135. “The feds get back into the stealing business,” The Washington Post 
  136. “Seizing the opportunity: Watered-down bill still worth passing,” New Hampshire Union-Leader  
  137. “Iowa must look at civil forfeiture law, make changes,” Daily Nonpareil 
  138. “Why reform was (is) needed,” Lincoln Journal Star 
  139. “An affront to due process,” Las Vegas Review-Journal  
  140. “Being smart on crime,” Stillwater News Press 
  141. “Scale back forfeiture rule,” Scranton Times-Tribune 
  142. “End highway robbery,” The Journal Record 
  143. “Collateral damage,” Las Vegas Review-Journal 
  144. “More work needed on asset forfeiture,” Daytona Beach News-Journal 
  145. “Bill protects property rights,” Columbus Dispatch 
  146. “California should protect rights and reform laws on asset seizure,” Los Angeles Daily News 
  147. “You Don’t Have to Be a Criminal for the IRS to Seize Your Bank Account,” National Review 
  148. “Forfeiture reform,” Las Vegas Review-Journal 
  149. “Civil Asset Forfeiture Laws Need Revamped,” Twin Falls Times-News 
  150. “It is ironic that Utah civil forfeiture report was issued on the eve of Independence Day,” Salt Lake Tribune
  151. Give me your gift cards, Las Vegas Review-Journal 
  152. “Remember the 4th Amendment? Stop asset thievery,” Pittsburgh Tribune-Review
  153. “Two significant steps toward a more-just justice system,” San Diego Union-Tribune 
  154. “Airport robbery,” Las Vegas Review-Journal
  155. “Lawmakers must tighten civil forfeiture rules,” Traverse City Record Eagle
  156. “Forfeiting civil asset forfeiture,” Orange County Register 
  157. “Asset forfeiture bill deserves final approval,” Los Angeles Daily News
  158. “End policing for profit,” San Francisco Chronicle
  159. “Finally, a chance to curb abuse of asset forfeiture laws,” Sacramento Bee
  160. “Forfeiture law must be reworked,” Muskogee Daily Phoenix
  161. “Tighten rules for asset forfeiture,” Honolulu Star-Advertiser
  162. “Virginia should follow California’s example on civil asset forfeiture,” Richmond Times-Dispatch
  163. “Left-Right Win in California,” Wall Street Journal
  164. “Forfeiture protections,” Las Vegas Review-Journal
  165. “Orange mulls seized funds for political advocacy,” Orange County Register
  166. “A man, his truck and feds’ ‘profit,’” San Antonio Express-News
  167. “The wrong victims,” Las Vegas Review-Journal
  168. “Suggestions can help civil forfeiture programs,” The Times (Ottawa, Illinois)
  169. “Civil asset forfeiture gets bad rating in Iowa,” Waterloo-Cedar Falls Courier
  170. “Don’t be fooled; forfeiture laws still need reform,” Des Moines Register
  171. “An impending victory for due process and property rights,” Washington Examiner
  172. “Flouting the Constitution,” Las Vegas Review-Journal
  173. “Transparency essential for police asset seizures,” Ashbury Park Press
  174. “Jeff Sessions and Civil Forfeiture,” Wall Street Journal
  175. “City needs to finally repair its vehicle seizure flaws,” Albuquerque Journal
  176. “Civil asset forfeiture by N.J. police needs reform,” Star Ledger
  177. “Good and bad news on civil asset forfeiture,” Orange County Register
  178. “Forfeit this bill,” Lawrence Journal-World
  179. “Tie property seizures by police to convictions,” The Daily Herald
  180. “Civil forfeiture needs boundary,” Topeka Capital-Journal
  181. “Forfeiture laws in Oklahoma still need attention,” Tahlequah Daily Press
  182. “A shady practice needs to end,” Richmond Times-Dispatch
  183. “Nevada gets poor grades when it comes to transparency and civil forfeiture,” Las Vegas Review-Journal
  184. “Restrict asset seizures, forfeitures,” Wichita Eagle
  185. “Progress on forfeiture,” Toledo Blade
  186. “No asset forfeiture without a conviction,” Racine Journal Times
  187. “Save grandma’s Jeep—reform civil asset forfeiture law,” Rockford Register Star
  188. “Has Trump drawn a target on Konni Burton?” Fort Worth Star-Telegram
  189. “Donald Trump’s wisecrack threat got all the attention, but Texas’ need for civil forfeiture reform is no joke,” Dallas Morning News
  190. “Burton’s asset forfeiture bill worthy of serious consideration,” Longview News-Journal
  191. “Civil forfeiture bill deserves to become law,” York Dispatch
  192. “Leach’s anti-forfeiture tweet: Right stance, wrong approach,” Pittsburgh Tribune-Review
  193. “More reform needed on property seizures,” Detroit News
  194. “Transparency just the start of asset seizure reforms needed,” Press of Atlantic City
  195. “A power that lets police take property for themselves — even when there’s no crime,” Washington Post
  196. “U.S. Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas raises questions about civil forfeiture,” Las Vegas Review-Journal
  197. “Abolish practice of seizing assets on mere suspicion,” Norwich Bulletin
  198. “Clarence Thomas issues a warning to the nation’s police,” Des Moines Register
  199. “Bill brings beneficial transparency for all,” Northeast Mississippi Daily Journal
  200. “New law requires transparency, and that is good,” WLOX
  201. “End perverse incentives for seizing assets,” Los Angeles Daily News
  202. “Mississippi’s Forfeiture Reforms,” The Wall Street Journal
  203. “Rein in civil forfeiture,” Scranton Times-Tribune
  204. “Inspector general report highlights forfeiture abuses at the Department of Justice,” Las Vegas Review-Journal
  205. “Taming forfeiture: A good bipartisan bill on asset seizure by feds,” Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
  206. “Civil asset forfeiture should outrage conservatives and progressives,” San Jose Mercury News
  207. “Protecting Property Rights,” St. Paul Pioneer Press
  208. “Cheers and jeers,” Twin Falls Times-News
  209. “Bipartisan, schmipartisan,” Idaho Falls Post Register
  210. “Legal thievery will continue despite forfeiture ‘reforms,’” Des Moines Register
  211. “Tougher rules needed on asset seizure; these bills create them,” Orange County Register
  212. “Don’t use forfeiture laws to target innocent people,” Chicago Sun-Times
  213. “State asset seizure law helps prevent abuse,” Today’s News-Herald
  214. “Forfeiture use ensnares more than criminals,” Jacksonville Journal Courier
  215. “Forfeiture reforms: A step in the right direction,” The Gazette
  216. “Cheers and jeers,” Twin Falls Times-News
  217. “No American should be comfortable with our asset forfeiture laws,” St. Louis Post-Dispatch
  218. “Give up the cash, stand up for the Constitution,” Post Star (New York)
  219. “Asset forfeiture funds should not go to border wall,” Norman Transcript
  220. “You’re cleared of a crime. Can the government keep your money anyway?” Richmond Times-Dispatch
  221. “Civil forfeiture: Closing the federal loophole,” Union Leader
  222. “Don’t applaud District Attorney Dumanis for this decision,” San Diego Union-Tribune
  223. “Guv should sign 1313,” Grand Junction Daily Sentinel
  224. “Civil forfeiture reform should become law,” Loveland Reporter-Herald
  225. “Hickenlooper should sign civil asset forfeiture bill,” Denver Post

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