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ACRE Director to Talk Property Rights Protection at State Capitol

By Caleb Taylor

How much cash and property was seized by law enforcement in Arkansas?

ACRE Director and UCA Associate Professor of Economics Dr. David Mitchell will answer this and more at a state House and Senate Judiciary Committee meeting at 1 p.m. Friday, December 18 at Room A in the MAC Building at the State Capitol.

A copy of the data and graphs he’ll explain to committee members can be viewed here. A copy of the meeting agenda can be viewed here. A link to livestream the meeting will also be posted on the Arkansas State Legislature’s site

ACRE researchers have previously discussed reforms to civil asset forfeiture and how often the practice takes place in Arkansas

Act 476 of 2019 replaced civil asset forfeiture with a criminal procedure with some big exceptions. The law prohibits the state from seizing cash or property without a conviction first unless an exception applies. These include:

  • being granted immunity or reduced punishment in exchange for testifying or assisting a law enforcement agency or prosecution
  • fleeing or failing to appear in court
  • abandoned or disclaimed ownership in the seized property
  • agreed in writing with the prosecuting attorney to give up the property

The law was signed by Gov. Asa Hutchinson on March 15, 2019. It was sponsored by State Senator Bart Hester R-District 1 and State Representative Austin McCollum R-District 95. It passed unanimously in the Senate and with 93 votes in favor in the House with 7 not voting

ACRE Affiliated Researcher and Bowen School of Law student Aaron Newell discussed the reform in an op-ed entitled “Still too weak” in the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette on June 20, 2019.

Former ACRE Fellow and UCA Schedler Honors College alumna Maleka Momand authored, “Guilty Until Proven Innocent: Civil Asset Forfeiture in Arkansas,” a policy brief supervised by UCA Assistant Professor of Economics and ACRE Scholar Dr. Jeremy Horpedahl.

Our infographic describes forfeiture in Arkansas through 2018  based on data from Freedom of Information Act requests to the Drug Director of Arkansas. Mitchell’s presentation updates and expands on this data based on Newell’s continued research.

For more of ACRE’s work on this issue, you can check out “Civil Asset Forfeiture in Arkansas,” a summary blog post of research by Momand in May 2017.

ACRE also invited Angela Erickson to speak about civil asset forfeiture as part of our Distinguished Speaker Series on September 19, 2017. 

Erickson is a former senior research analyst at the Institute for Justice (IJ) and 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. You can watch her talk on ACRE’s YouTube page.