As your state senator I am extremely vigilant on the need to balance the role of our criminal justice system with the rights of the individual citizen. There is no greater example of the need for a restoration of this balance than in our current laws regarding civil asset forfeiture.
For those not aware of this process, civil asset forfeiture is the taking of property by the state from individuals wherein the state believes it is more probable than not the property is the product of a criminal act or has been used in the commission of a criminal act. It is important to note, however, the state does not have to convict an individual of a crime to successfully seize and later claim the property in question. In fact, from the best data available, many cases of asset forfeiture end without the state securing a criminal conviction, but the state still successfully keeps most, if not all, of the property.
While civil asset forfeiture is a strong tool against large criminal enterprises, we need to ensure there are sufficient protections in statute for law-abiding individuals. A prime example of the inefficiency of our current asset forfeiture system is when an individual has their property wrongly seized, they are unable to even begin the process for reclamation of this property for up to thirty days. This individual is simply expected to do without their property, which could be anything from money to a vehicle or to a home, with no means to even petition their government for redress for an unreasonably long period of time. This is unacceptable. The status quo must change.
To this end, I am filing a major reform package which keeps asset forfeiture in the toolbox of law enforcement but creates reasonable protections for citizens, requires proper reporting on the use of forfeiture, and raises the legal standard for the government to engage in the taking of property. Property rights are the foundation of any free system of government, and we have allowed the government to erode them in the name of law and order. We must do better and I intend to lead the charge.
One last thing: I need to hear from you! Here are two ways for you to interact with my office:
- Please take the five minutes to go to my website and take my SD10 Legislative Survey. Tell me what matters to you!
- Grab your cell phone and text KONNI to 97000 to join my text alert system! Next session I will be sending text alerts on priority bills for SD10 and keep you up-to-date on the latest happenings in your state Capitol.