by Connor Boyack
January 22, 2014
The last decades have seen a steady erosion of the protection of property rights, due in large measure to the so-called “war on drugs.” Federal and state laws have been increasingly enacted that augment the power of law enforcement agencies to seize a citizen’s property—often prior to any conviction and without due process. A 2000 citizen initiative that passed by 69% of the vote in Utah introduced substantial restrictions on asset forfeiture but several key provisions were overturned unanimously by the legislature in 2013 after lawmakers were told that the bill was a simple “recodification.” Given the direct vote of Utahns in 2000 making clear their intent in altering the law, we believe that any changes to that initiative must be done in good faith. We recommend rolling back certain key changes to restore what the public, and legislators, understood forfeiture law to be.