Trenton, NJ – Today, the New Jersey Assembly Law and Public Safety Committee held an informational hearing on civil asset forfeiture laws in New Jersey. Civil asset forfeiture laws allow the government to seize cash, cars, real estate or other property suspected of being connected to criminal activity, regardless of whether the person is convicted, or in some cases, even if charges are never filed against the property owner.
Roseanne Scotti, New Jersey State Director of the Drug Policy Alliance, issued the following statement after today’s hearing:
“Today’s hearing is an important step toward reforming civil asset forfeiture laws – also known as “policing for profit” – that have long been in need of reform. These laws create perverse incentives that can cause law enforcement to over-enforce crimes that carry the possibility of forfeiture, most predominantly drug offenses, to the neglect of other public safety objectives. The harms caused by these laws disproportionately impact low-income individuals, who often choose not to challenge the seizure of their property because it is too onerous and expensive to do so.
“We look forward to continuing to work with the New Jersey Assembly to ensure that New Jersey reforms its unjust civil asset forfeiture laws.”
DPA is calling for broad civil asset forfeiture reform that would, for instance, require a criminal conviction before any forfeiture of property.
DPA also supports legislation (S1963/A3442), which has already been introduced and would address the data gaps in civil asset forfeiture reporting, by establishing reporting requirements on all law enforcement agencies in New Jersey.
Click here for more background on the New Solutions Campaign’s work to reform civil asset forfeiture laws in New Jersey.