Last year, it was Democrats who were pressured into killing overdue civil asset forfeiture reform because the authorities ‘needed the money’. As if needing the money was ever an acceptable excuse for taking the property of innocent people.
This year, Republicans are being pressured with undue fears about reform by interests who really still just care about the money.
Conservatives should stand strong, and comfortably in support of the civil asset forfeiture reform bill, HB 2810, as it is currently written. There is no need for further modifications.
This bill is the result of a multi-year process, much debate and stakeholder input, and already includes sensible exemptions to new limitations on the ability of the police to confiscate property.
The bad guys still will pay the price for their crimes. Anything seized that is evidence in a case can be kept by the authorities. People who’ve fled forfeit their property. It does not impede prosecutors in building a case, and anyone who committed a crime or let their property be involved in criminal activity loses it just like before.
Most importantly, HB 2810 protects innocent Arizonans from having their property taken. If there is no crime, it remains a dangerous standard to allow the authorities to take the property of citizens. All sides of the political spectrum can agree on that.
This strong, proven reform would put Arizona in comfortable step with 18 other states who’ve enacted similar or even stronger reforms. That includes three states that have abolished civil asset forfeiture entirely (not to be confused with criminal forfeiture). Neighboring New Mexico is one of those states.
Conservatives can rest easy defending the property rights and due process rights of their voters, and should not get stuck holding the bag defending the indefensible. It’s time to give HB 2810 a vote.