On Wednesday, the Pennsylvania State Senate approved Senate Bill 869, which would reform the state’s laws on civil asset forfeiture. If the measure is passed by the Pennsylvania House of Representatives and signed into law by Gov. Tom Wolf (D), local and state government law enforcement agencies would be required to obtain criminal convictions before an individual’s property is forfeited to the government.
Pennsylvania would join a growing number of states, including Nebraska, New Mexico, and Wyoming, in protecting taxpayers’ due-process and property rights by requiring the government to prove criminal acts occurred before punishing individuals by seizing their assets and property.
The following statement from Research Fellow Jesse Hathaway of The Heartland Institute – a free-market think tank – may be used for attribution. For more comments, refer to the contact information below. To book a Heartland guest on your program, please contact Director of Communications Jim Lakely at [email protected] and 312/377-4000 or (cell) 312/731-9364.
“Government law enforcement should not be financially motivated, but motivated by a desire to protect and serve taxpayers. By creating an economic incentive to engage in the forfeiture process, civil asset forfeiture perverts the law. Government agencies behave like living creatures, optimizing for activities for which they receive awards.
“Pennsylvania legislators are taking a step towards removing the profitability of violating individuals’ inherent rights to property. Lawmakers in other states should look to the Keystone State for ideas on how to solve the civil asset forfeiture problem in their communities.”
The Heartland Institute is a 32-year-old national nonprofit organization headquartered in Arlington Heights, Illinois. Its mission is to discover, develop, and promote free-market solutions to social and economic problems. For more information, visit our website or call 312/377-4000.