Asset Restoration-Forfeiture: Rath Mississippi is Lesson for Other States


Here is what we learned from enacting and protecting moderate reform.

A there is a national movement for "civil forfeiture" reform. In many states, the current policy allows the government to confiscate property on the grounds that it is related to crime – never convicted of any crime. In court, these civil cases have a lower burden of proof than in criminal cases, even when there is a valuable property like a vehicle in question.

Restore the twentieth and twentieth century of civil forfeiture laws since 2014. Fifteen or more cases now declare criminal offenses due to the forfeited cases. And the recent stories about the forfeiture of laws here in Mississippi – mention "law and order" through any measure – indicate that the voting community does not believe that there is a contradiction between the proper process and the law enforcing.

In 2018, Mississippi's legislature approved the law Authorize a single type of civil forfeiture in particular, known as "administrative forfeiture," to the sunset. For administrative forfeiture, legal enforcement agencies in Mississippi could retain assets and worth $ 20,000 or less, as long as they believed it was involved in drug crime, but by obtaining a warrant and notifying the owner. If the owner did not suit the suit within 30 days, the property was automatically damaged to the agency. And almost half of all of the administrative forfeiture cases involved almost not less than $ 1,000, it was not unrealistic and potentially expecting property owners to bring court costs and solicitor fees to those cases to be brought to court in their own.

In 2019 there was a concerted campaign to restore the age of regime – but it met with star leaders led by conservative conservative legislators and colleagues in the Mississippi Police Institute, the legal hand of the Mississippi Public Policy Conservative Center.

Retaining administrative forfeiture from the books was a modest reform. He only ensured that all cases forfeited to court for final consideration. He did not interfere with a criminal forfeiture, that is when property authorities keep after a criminal offense. He did not even interfere with ordinary civilization, where property agencies keep filing an affair and create a civil court that the property was involved in drug crime. When asked, most citizens believe that it is the least government to do before making your iPhone, cash, or keeping your truck.

But lawyers did not keep a law from painting a doomsday of life in Mississippi after the end of administrative forfeiture. One elected leader stated that drug dealers would enter Mississippi to "get better deal". An officer of a state police agency accepted the air flights to warn, incorrectly, that those drug moneys should be taken back to convicted drug dealers after leaving a prison. The officials advised the public that opponents were changing the law "enforcement of allegations" and "pro-drug dealer." Many of the chief executives of police and divisors brought the state capital into all uniforms to complete a warning against practice.

The message for legislators was clear: Opposition of administrative forfeiture and against law enforcement as a whole. The message for citizens was more ominous: Choose between your rights and your safety.

Despite all this, Mississippians made clear that they were against the administrative forfeiture. Rectors were able to make calls and emails from citizens concerned. The social media was opposed to re-authorizing practice. Radio station callers were queried asking how this might always be the law in the first place. Ultimately, Mississippi's messengers listened to the voices of these ordinary citizens. The attempt to re-authorize administrative forfeiture did not even take enough votes to move away from the committee.

This is the lesson for elected leaders in states that have forfeited reforms still weighting: Do not fall for false dichotomies. Trust for citizens. They understand that you can strengthen constitutional rights and also support law enforcement. If you're brave enough to start the conversation, and to hold your land, you may be surprised at how much you will be.

Aaron Rice

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Aaron Rice is the Director of the Mississippi Institute of Justice, the Mississippi Federal Public Policy Center.

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