Does asset forfeiture struggle crime, or is it only a cash seize for police?

Does asset forfeiture struggle crime, or is it only a cash seize for police?

Does asset forfeiture struggle crime, or is it only a cash seize for police?

One other yr has come to go, one other yr during which the State of Kansas continued to unconstitutionally take thousands and thousands of {dollars} from folks inside its borders by means of the state’s civil asset forfeiture regime.

Based on the Kansas Bureau of Investigation, the state “forfeited” $2 million in cash and property from folks in 2022.

Within the context of civil asset forfeiture, “forfeit” is a misdirection. Whereas forfeit familiarly means “to surrender,” when the state “forfeits” your property, the federal government takes it as a penalty imposed on you.

Kansas regulation permits regulation enforcement to grab and maintain folks’s cash and property if they think or allege it’s related to felony exercise, even when the proprietor isn’t charged with or convicted of a criminal offense. Kansas regulation additionally permits regulation enforcement to maintain 100% of the proceeds from forfeiture.

This association creates a compelling revenue incentive for regulation enforcement companies to grab folks’s cash and property.

In 2018, state lawmakers handed laws that requires all Kansas regulation enforcement companies to report asset seizure and forfeiture data to the Kansas Asset Seizure and Forfeiture Repository.

Since reporting started on July 1, 2019, regulation enforcement companies have reported seizing $20 million in cash and property — a median of $13,000 per day.

Nearly all of the property seized by Kansas regulation enforcement are forfeited. Whereas 80% of householders within the database are nonetheless legally harmless, the state has completely taken roughly 90% of the seized property.

To get well their property, folks should show the property’s innocence — which is why you see forfeiture case names like Kansas Freeway Patrol v. 1959 Chevrolet Corvette.

The few folks fortunate sufficient to regain their property spend a median of 14 months combating for it in court docket.

The Institute for Justice estimates the common value to rent an lawyer to struggle a easy state forfeiture case is $3,000. Half of all seizures within the KASFR have a worth of $3,000 or much less.

So most individuals whose property has been seized by Kansas regulation enforcement are higher off forfeiting what was taken.

Proponents of civil asset forfeiture argue it’s essential to struggle massive felony enterprises, alleging that seizing criminals’ property makes it more durable for them to proceed their unlawful operations.

However the information reveals most seizures in Kansas don’t contain values that might injure organized crime operations — however that always quantity to a major loss for the common particular person.

Though the KASFR database sheds gentle on forfeiture actions in Kansas, darkish spots stay from prevalent errors and omissions.

Kansas regulation enforcement turns over some seizures to federal companies for forfeiture proceedings in federal courts. By a program often called “equitable sharing,” federal companies then return a proportion of the proceeds to Kansas regulation enforcement.

The KBI doesn’t embody these property within the annual studies to the legislature. Consequently, the KBI grossly underrepresents the full quantities of money and property forfeited from folks within the state.

The KBI annual forfeiture studies present the state has forfeited $9.4 million by means of state proceedings. Individuals for Prosperity Basis has discovered Kansas regulation enforcement companies have transferred $5 million extra in seized property to federal companies for forfeiture, which means the KBI studies omit as much as one-third of the full worth of cash and property forfeited within the state.

Lawmakers handed the forfeiture transparency regulation as a result of they suspected civil asset forfeiture was being overused. 4 years of forfeiture information confirms their suspicions and begs the query: is civil asset forfeiture primarily used to advertise public security or police for revenue?

Some states have taken measures to guard folks’s rights and property. New Mexico, for instance, handed legal guidelines to finish civil forfeiture, redirect all felony forfeiture proceeds to the state’s basic fund and place restrictions on the federal forfeiture equitable sharing program.

Final yr, 2022, marked the twenty eighth yr civil asset forfeiture imperiled folks’s rights to property and due course of in Kansas. Maybe, in 2023, it’s time to defend them.

Jon Lueth and Thomas Kimbrell are with Individuals for Prosperity Basis.

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