Credit: Alex Ristea / photo on flickrRemember that amazing property rights and due process victory earlier this year when New Mexico passed one of the strongest laws restricting asset forfeiture in the United States? Not only did it require that citizens be convicted of crimes before having their property and money permanently taken by law enforcement, it also directed the revenue from forfeiture into the state’s general fund rather than to police departments. Police could no longer take property from citizens without proving they had committed crimes, and the profit motive for doing so had been erased. It was wonderful! It’s probably the best reform of asset forfeiture rules ever passed.
Anyway, some police are apparently ignoring the law. I believe the appropriate sound effect is the sad trombone’s “womp womp.”
What is happening is that some cities seem to think that the new asset forfeiture rules don’t apply to their own ordinances. Albuquerque has a vehicle seizure program that snatches cars from people accused of crimes, particularly cases of drunken driving. They have not stopped this program. In fact they seem to be pushing it more than ever to bring in revenue for city police.
Now the city of Albuquerque is being sued by two state senators representing Albuquerque (one a Democrat, one a Republican) to try to stop it. They’re being represented by the property-rights-fighting lawyers for the Institute for Justice, which had helped push for the reform in the first place. Here’s how the Santa Fe New…