Last Monday, Connecticut Gov. Dannel Malloy signed a bill to curb the state’s civil forfeiture laws. Under the new law, property confiscated via civil forfeiture may be permanently retained only if the property was seized through a lawful search and if the seizure ultimately leads to the suspect's criminal conviction. Without a guilty verdict, the government must return all property to the rightful owner.
Prior to this new bill, Connecticut’s civil asset forfeiture policy made it legal for an individual’s property or cash to be seized and indefinitely retained by the state even if they have not been convicted or even accused of committing any crime.
According to the Institute for Justice, state civil asset forfeiture cases constituted 77 percent of all Connecticut forfeiture cases between 2009 and 2013. This indicates that that less than one-quarter of Connecticut’s forfeitures required proof that the property owner had committed any crime.
“Civil forfeiture is one of the most serious assaults on Americans’ private property rights,” said Institute for Justice Senior Legislative Counsel Lee McGrath.
On this week’s “Pat and Stu,” the guys couldn’t imagine why more states have not already adopted similar policies. “Think about it,” said Stu Burguiere. “You don’t even have to have done anything wrong … even if you are exonerated of any crime, they still get to keep your stuff!”
“How is that possible?” Pat Gray wondered. “That shouldn’t be possible in America.”