Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Feds Punish New Mexico For Ending Civil Asset Forfeiture

New Mexico is apparently being punished by federal law enforcement for ending the practice of allowing police to seize property and money from suspects.

Susana Martinez - Abq Journal
New Mexico's legislature earlier this year passed a law that prevented Civil Asset Forfeiture -- i.e., law enforcement agencies being able to seize money or property from mere suspects. Governor Susana Martinez signed the legislation into law in April.

Many people didn't like the practice because it allows police to take your money and property even if you haven't been convicted of a crime -- and keep it even if you are never convicted.

Besides the fact that it amounts to theft and goes against the principal of "innocent until proven guilty" there have been cases of mistaken identity where people didn't get their money or property back and also instances when police simply used it to steal money.

But when New Mexico outlawed Civil Asset Forfeiture, the federal government responded by kicking New Mexico out of another program -- the Equitable Sharing Program -- by which the states and federal government share assets taken from people who have actually been convicted of crimes.

This is according to a couple of news web sites that track law enforcement. It came to light because of some leaked emails in California. New Mexico so far is the only state to outlaw Civil Asset Forfeiture, but California, and several other states, are trying to outlaw it too, now, and federal law enforcement isn't happy. They are trying to derail California's reform efforts by threatening to kick them out the Equitable Sharing Program, like New Mexico was.

The reason the federal law enforcement agencies are responding like this is that they got a lot of extra money when local police agencies would bring them in on cases in order to get around restrictions on civil forfeiture.

Supposedly civil asset forfeiture laws were passed to let police go after the big narcotrafficers, but I've seen horror story articles, like the kid who was just driving to California and was stopped and robbed of all his money by some police officers, and perfectly legally.

I don't know why New Mexico hasn't been complaining. Maybe they don't know yet. State government has been in a turmoil because of some ongoing scandals. I've not heard anything about this in our media and a search at the Albuquerque Journal's web site turned up nothing.

Here are links to the articles, in:

 The Free Thought Project

The Daily Signal

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