Civil asset forfeiture is a common issue that is self-evidently abusive. For this reason, Americans for Tax Reform is endorsing Alaska’s new asset forfeiture reform bill, H.B. 317, introduced by Rep. Tammie Wilson (R-North Pole).
The proposal calls for a conviction before law enforcement can keep any seized assets permanently. To reflect the criminal nature of forfeitures, the standard of proof would also be raised. Profit incentives would also be removed to enforce legislative oversight for the state’s police budgets.
In the United States, approximately $5 billion were seized by law enforcement in 2014 alone. Most of these seizures came without convictions. Alaskan police can currently take citizens’ cash, car, or firearms based solely on the suspicion of a crime. In some cases, law enforcement can keep up to 100 percent of the proceeds from a forfeiture.
This does not protect the rights granted to U.S. citizens. The Fourth and Fifth Amendments protect due process and property rights.
Read an excerpt below of ATR’s letter to Rep. LeDoux:
“On behalf of Americans for Tax Reform and taxpayers everywhere, I am writing to you to express my strong support of House Bill 317. This bill would reform Alaska’s civil asset forfeiture laws to add additional protections for law-abiding citizens…
HB 317 would provide crucial constitutional protections by requiring that a defendant be convicted of the underlying crime before cash or property can be permanently seized. This provides the necessary due process to ensure fairness while maintaining asset forfeiture as a tool for law enforcement. Standards of proof would also be raised to reflect the criminal nature of forfeitures.
Transparency requirements would also be bolstered in addition to removals of profit incentives to ensure legislative oversight over the state’s police budgets. Police departments should not self-fund outside of the legislature: its common sense…
Wyoming, Michigan, Maryland, New Mexico, and Florida are just some of the many states that have taken asset forfeiture seriously. Alaska should join the growing club of states that put their citizens’ rights first.
I implore your colleagues to extend their personal support for this important legislation. For more information, please contact Jorge Marin in my office at firstname.lastname@example.org."
President, Americans for Tax Reform