There’s been a big push for criminal justice reform, with some recent progress on civil asset forfeiture.
This is the process through which police and government agencies grab a citizen’s money or property — even if the citizen is never charged with a crime, much less convicted. Then, to get one’s stuff back, a citizen must sue to prove the stuff was innocent of being involved in criminal activity.
Asset forfeiture without a criminal conviction turns our system of justice on its head, encouraging bad behavior by police — ahem, stealing — by rewarding departments and agencies that get to keep the loot.
Reform legislation passed through an Oklahoma House committee earlier this week and now goes to the full House. Television News 9 in Oklahoma City began its report by acknowledging that, “A watered down version of the civil asset forfeiture bill has crossed another hurdle in the state Legislature.”
That’s because a bill to end civil asset forfeiture outright had already failed in the Senate. The currently pending legislation requires that citizens who sue to recover their property and win be awarded their legal fees.
It’s progress . . . but still not justice enough.
Late last month, Wyoming’s Gov. Matt Mead signed reform legislation mandating that there be a probable cause hearing before the legal forfeiture process can begin. Good. But that was after Gov. Mead vetoed a better bill, which stopped all official, convictionless snatching of stuff.
Police taking people’s stuff without having to prove a crime must be ended altogether, abolished. That means we better stop waiting for politicians. Instead, petition this important principle directly to the people — use ballot initiatives in cities and states across the country.
No time like the present.
This is Common Sense. I’m Paul Jacob.
Common Sense Needs Your Help!
Also, please consider showing your appreciation by dropping something in our tip jar (this link will take you to the Citizens in Charge donation page… and your contribution will go to the support of the Common Sense website). Maintaining this site takes time and money. Your help in spreading the message of common sense and liberty is very much appreciated!