Press Release

ICYMI: Now it’s harder for law enforcement agencies to confiscate your stuff

Posted by

ICYMI: Now it’s harder for law enforcement agencies to confiscate your stuff

(Washington, D.C.) – The Sierra Vista Herald published an oped by Fernando Gonzales of The LIBRE Initiative, regarding Arizona’s reform of asset forfeiture laws.

To read full op-ed, click here

Arizona lawmakers just made it harder for law enforcement to take your stuff.

***

That’s the effect of a new law signed by Gov. Doug Ducey. It reforms our state’s civil asset forfeiture laws, which enable law enforcement agencies to seize cash, property, and vehicles from citizens without charging them or convicting them of a crime. Though further reforms are needed, we applaud this move to reform one of the most blatant violations of civil liberties in existence today.

***

Nationwide, civil asset forfeiture disproportionately impacts Latinos, and other minorities. It’s difficult to know the full scope of this impact in Arizona because law enforcement has fought to avoid oversight and did not keep or publish detailed data on the victims of asset forfeiture.

***

Recent high profile cases underscore the need for reform. The FBI is currently investigating former Pinal County Sheriff Paul Babeu and County Attorney Lando Voyles’s use of forfeiture funds. While in Pima County, a top official pled guilty to misusing funds obtained through forfeiture.

***

The new law—which was passed with nearly unanimous, bipartisan support—curbs abuse by imposing strict reporting requirements so Arizona voters know what is being seized, why police seized it, and how the proceeds are spent. The bill also closes a loophole through which police could skirt local restrictions by cooperating with federal agencies.

***

Arizonans should applaud Gov. Ducey and lawmakers for taking this important step and demand continued reforms. No one in Arizona should be deprived of life, liberty, or property without due process of law.

To read full op-ed, click here