Civil Asset Forfeiture Needs More Accountability

By Caleb Taylor

Angela Erickson, a former senior research analyst at the Institute for Justice (IJ), visited UCA in September to speak about civil asset forfeiture.

Erickson is a co-author of Policing for Profit: The Abuse of Civil Asset Forfeiture (2nd ed.) in which Arkansas receives a D-. Her work has been cited by the Obama White House, the U.S. Supreme Court, numerous newspapers including the Washington Post and the Wall Street Journal, and by research published in several academic journals.

Civil asset forfeiture occurs when property is permanently taken from a citizen who has never been convicted of a crime — essentially because law enforcement officers suspect that the property is a tool, or proceeds, of a crime.

Arkansas’s justice system isn’t required to obtain a criminal conviction before seizing property.

ACRE research cited by Erickson shows that law enforcement in Arkansas seized nearly $45 million between 2010 to 2015. This total doesn’t include the value of other items seized such as automobiles, jewelry, weapons and other items eligible for seizure under Arkansas law.

Arkansas should at minimum make civil asset forfeiture reporting by law enforcement more transparent.

According to Erickson:

“We need better accountability on just data so that citizens can look at it. Right now, you don’t know what’s happening in this state.”

You can watch her full presentation here, and stay up to date on our videos by following our YouTube page.