Americans for Tax Reform would like to applaud Governor Susana Martinez (R-N.M.) and the state legislature for passing historic civil asset forfeiture reform legislation. The governor, a former district attorney, signed HB 560 which passed the legislature unanimously earlier this month. In a recent letter to Martinez, ATR urged the governor to sign this important law:
We ask that you help put an end to a regime that allows authorities to take and keep property from individuals not charged with a crime. By signing the bill, civil asset forfeiture is changed into criminal asset forfeiture; thereby ensuring that criminals, not law-abiding civilians, pay the price for broken laws.
In her a released statement, Martinez asserts “the changes made by this legislation improve the transparency and accountability of the forfeiture process and provide further protections to innocent property owners.”
This is, of course balanced with concern for law enforcement.
She asks that “we… ensure that our law enforcement officers have the training, protection, and tools necessary to fight crime within our borders. The burden is on public officials at every level to ensure that our law enforcement officers are respected for the work they do and have all the resources they need to protect our families.”
Civil asset forfeiture has been in the spotlight as a problematic tool that may invite abuse by some in the law enforcement community; however, New Mexico now finds itself leading the charge in reforms aimed at protecting the constitutional rights of Americans.
Hopefully, lawmakers and politicians will follow New Mexico’s example in protecting both citizens and law enforcement with similar reform legislation.