Civil forfeiture—where the government can take and keep your property without ever charging you with a crime, let alone convicting you of one—is one of the greatest threats to property rights in the nation. Such forfeitures often supplements the budgets of police, sheriff and prosecutors’ offices, giving them a direct financial incentive to abuse this power.
Even worse, law enforcement officials frequently fail to disclose what property they confiscate or how they use forfeiture proceeds.
State legislators should demand transparency. IJ’s Model Seizure and Forfeiture Reporting Act is the first step. It provides legislators with the information necessary to check members of the executive branch who seize and forfeit property.
Once enacted, state legislators then can turn to enacting comprehensive reforms that better protects property and due process rights.
For more information about how your state laws fare, check out IJ’s report, Forfeiture Transparency & Accountability: State-by-State and Federal Report Cards.