While state bills to reform forfeiture brings important attention to legalized government theft, they’ll have no long-term real effect unless a massive federal loophole is closed by each state.
Watch this video to learn about it, then scroll down to take action in your state.
ACTION STEPS (for all states except New Mexico, Nebraska, and California, which have already passed a 1st step into law):
- Get this model legislation (right-click to download .pdf file) Legislation signed as law in New Mexico in 2015 serves as a good template for other states to follow.
- Contact your STATE rep and senator – send them a copy of the law passed in New Mexico and ask them to do the same for your state. This represents a big first step forward, and will face great opposition. But strong grassroots support can help get the job done. Find contact info here
- For New Mexico, Nebraska, and California – ask your state legislators to take the next step on the law already in place (which closes the loophole in MOST situations), and ask them to introduce legislation to close the loophole in ALL situations.
ADDITIONAL STEP – for all states – help spread the word!
- Share this page and ask others to do the same
Opponents of the asset forfeiture process often call it “policing for profit.” They argue that the lure of asset forfeiture money incentivizes police to direct manpower and resources toward actions that promise a payoff instead of focusing on other priorities that directly impact the safety of the community.
Reforms are essential to address this situation. But states also need to be aware of a federal loophole police will crawl through if not pulled shut. Any reform of asset forfeiture on a state level also needs to include provisions that stop state and local law enforcement from turning cases over to the federal government, circumventing any restrictions placed on asset forfeiture by the state.
This very scenario plays out frequently in states with strong asset forfeiture laws. Police simply avoid restrictions on the revenue they can collect by turning cases involving seized assets over to the feds. In return, state and local agencies get up to 80 percent of the proceeds back through the Federal Equitable Sharing Program.
Legislation signed into law in New Mexico serves as an excellent starting point for other states, as it restricts state action and also closes the federal equitable sharing loophole in most situations.