A new poll conducted by Mason-Dixon Polling & Research found 88 percent of registered voters in Mississippi are against “allowing police to seize and permanently take away property from people who have not been convicted of a crime.” A mere seven percent of voters support the practice, known as civil forfeiture, while five percent are undecided.
Opposition was constant across race, age, gender and political identification. Eighty-six percent of men and 89 percent of women are against the practice, as are 88 percent of Democrats, 89 percent of Republicans and 86 percent of independents. Only nine percent of white voters and just two percent of black voters support civil forfeiture in Mississippi.
“When forfeiture is limited to taking the property of convicted criminals, it can be a legitimate law enforcement tool. But that’s not the case with civil forfeiture. This practice erodes fundamental private property and due process rights for Mississippians,” Forest Thigpen, president of the Mississippi Center for Public Policy, noted in a release.
The Mississippi legislature is currently considering a bill that would provide greater transparency for forfeiture in the state. Under the version overwhelmingly passed by the House, the bill would require police and prosecutors to disclose how much they collect through forfeiture and would “oblige agencies to list whether or not property owners were even charged with a crime.”
The Mississippi poll is consistent with other polling on the subject. Back in August, the Huffington Post and YouGov found just seven percent of Americans support existing civil forfeiture laws. Polling in Utah and Florida found 83 and 84 percent of those polled are against unjust police seizures, Reason reported.
The latter poll, conducted by Drug Policy Action and Public Policy Polling, found a staggering 23 percent of Hispanics in Florida have either had their property seized by police without being criminally charged, or know someone who has. By comparison, that figure was five percent for whites, six percent for African Americans and eight percent across all races.