Reforms to Ohio’s civil asset forfeiture procedures passed the state House of Representatives on May 25 with an overwhelming 72-25 bipartisan vote. This legislation strengthens protections for Ohio property owners and ensures property seized by a government agency cannot be forfeited without due process of law. It moves now to the Senate for approval.
Recent editorials in Ohio newspapers have emphasized the need to pass these reforms, highlighting the role Fix Forfeiture and the U.S. Justice Action Network have played in advancing these changes. We urge the Senate to take up this bill, make it even stronger, and send it to the Governor’s desk.
The Columbus Dispatch Editorial, Columbus, OH:
“Alarm over abuses of this power, called civil forfeiture, has united a coalition of conservatives and progressive groups: Fix Forfeiture launched its push for legislative reform a year ago and targeted Ohio as a key state to achieve national change.
House Bill 347 is a measured approach to end the abuse of a tactic intended to stymie drug cartels and organized crime by stripping away their assets and infrastructure. In practice, innocent people have found themselves caught up in a system that rewards law enforcement for seizing property by letting their agencies keep the proceeds.
If people want to reclaim their property, they have to go to court (and likely hire an attorney) and prove their property wasn’t used in a crime. This upends a bedrock foundation of the American justice system — the presumption of innocence.”
Read the Dispatch editorial in full, here.
The Courier Editorial, Findlay, OH:
“The Ohio House did the right thing last week when members approved House Bill 347, a proposal that places important restrictions on civil asset forfeitures. Next, the Senate should finish the job when it gets back to work after the summer break.”
“Public support for change is strong.
Last year, a U.S. Justice Action Network poll of registered voters found 81 percent believe asset forfeiture is in need of reform. While the original version of HB 347 would have eliminated civil asset forfeiture and required a conviction in all cases, the legislature is doing the right thing by increasing protections for Ohio property owners.
The reforms are reasonable. Government shouldn’t be able to take assets without due process.”
Read the editorial in full here.