Civil forfeiture—where the government can take and sell 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. To make matters worse, such forfeitures often fund law enforcement officials’ budgets, giving them a direct financial incentive to abuse this power. Unfortunately, law enforcement agencies frequently fail to disclose what they seize or how they use forfeiture proceeds. This lack of accountability to state legislators and the public only makes a bad problem worse.
State legislators must stand up for property rights and demand better accountability. IJ’s Model Seizure and Forfeiture Reporting Act provides legislators with the information necessary for basic oversight of members of the executive branch—law enforcement agencies—who seize and forfeit private property under state and federal forfeiture laws.
The model is an initial step for state legislators to enact comprehensive forfeiture reform. It provides them the data to protect property and due process rights in their states with future forfeiture legislation.
For more information about how your state laws fare, check out IJ’s report, Forfeiture Transparency & Accountability: State-by-State and Federal Report Cards.