PRESS RELEASE: Heartland Institute Experts React to Alabama Civil Asset Forfeiture Reform Bill
“Private property rights and due process are bedrock American values, and The Heartland Institute supports these constitutional reforms.” - Tim Huelskamp, Ph.D.
Today, the Alabama state legislature introduced the Alabama Forfeiture Accountability and Integrity Reform Act (FAIR), a bill that would limit the ability of law enforcement agencies to seize property from criminal suspects without due process. The authors of the bill claim it will protect against unjust forfeiture by requiring a conviction before the seizure of property as well as instituting more transparency to the process of forfeiture.
The following statements from budget and tax policy experts at The Heartland Institute – a free-market think tank – may be used for attribution. For more comments, refer to the contact information below. To book a Heartland guest on your program, please contact Media Specialist Billy Aouste at email@example.com and 312/377-4000 or (cell) 847/445-7554.
“Private property rights and due process are bedrock American values, and The Heartland Institute supports these constitutional reforms of Alabama’s civil forfeiture laws. We stand willing and ready to assist other states who believe that all Americans are considered innocent until proven guilty.”
“Alabama’s Forfeiture Accountability and Integrity Reform Act would reform the state’s laws on civil asset forfeiture and protects Alabamans' constitutional rights to property and due process.
The bill would require the government to establish ‘clear and convincing evidence’ that property was used or gained through criminal activity, and would require prosecutors to obtain a criminal conviction before punishing people by seizing their property.
Currently, law enforcement is effectively being allowed to trample on individuals’ rights, breaking the trust between the community and government.
Civil asset forfeiture reform is a bipartisan issue, transcending ideology and party identification. More and more, people are working together to ensure government preserves the rights of everyone.
Alabama lawmakers should follow the lead of Ohio, New Mexico, Texas, and numerous other states, and work to protect its citizens’ rights by enacting civil asset forfeiture reform.”
“Alabama’s current civil asset forfeiture laws are particularly egregious, giving law enforcement agencies a tremendous amount of latitude when seizing property and near-complete control over the assets they seize—and all with virtually no transparency.
Assets should be seized only when guilt has been established in a court of law. Law enforcement should not have incentives to seize any more property than is necessary and justified. The Forfeiture Accountability and Integrity Reform Act addresses these two issues by requiring a conviction before seizure, a reasonable and necessary reform that has been adopted in 14 other states. It also creates a case-tracking system and searchable public website, which would include information about the property forfeited, finally bringing accountability and transparency to the seizure process. All the reforms under the FAIR Act are reasonable, giving the law enforcement community the ability to seize when appropriate while limiting the incentive to seize for their own benefit.”