Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Tell Gov. Ducey to approve HB 2477 to help stop unwarranted seizures of personal property by police

Did you know that in Arizona law enforcement agencies use a system called civil asset forfeiture to take and keep peoples' homes, businesses, cash, cars and other property on the mere suspicion it is involved with criminal activity? This is true even if the owner is never convicted — or even charged — with a crime.

Fortunately, the Legislature overwhelmingly passed a bill (HB 2477) that now sits on Gov. Ducey's desk that would significantly reform Arizona's civil asset forfeiture system. Please contact the governor now and tell him to sign this important measure.

If HB 2477 becomes law, police and prosecutors will be required to report publicly what property they have seized. They will also have to go through an approval process before making any purchases with the proceeds of seized property.

These are huge steps forward. But Gov. Ducey is being lobbied hard by prosecutors and law enforcement agencies to veto HB 2477 because they want to continue reaping the financial benefits of an unregulated civil asset forfeiture system. Contact Gov. Ducey now and tell him to approve HB 2477. We need to make our voices heard.

The forfeiture reforms in HB 2477 will also make it easier for Arizonans' to challenge the seizure of their property, force the government to make a solid case if a seizure is contested, and eliminates loopholes that currently allow local law enforcement agencies to circumvent state law related to forfeiture.

We have to make sure powerful prosecutors and police chiefs do not drown out our voices. Email Gov. Ducey now and tell him to sign HB 2477.

This bill addresses a number of problems with the current civil asset forfeiture scheme and moves Arizona in the right direction on transparency, accountability, and due process. Please urge Gov. Ducey to sign HB 2477.

- Alessandra Soler, ACLU of Arizona

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