Hyde's Civil Asset Forfeiture Reform Act Passes House Easily 6/25/99

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(press release from the Drug Policy Foundation, http://www.dpf.org)

WASHINGTON, June 24 -- The Civil Asset Forfeiture Reform Act of 1999, a bill sponsored by Reps. Henry Hyde (R-IL), John Conyers (D-MI), Bob Barr (R-GA) and Barney Frank (D-MA), sailed through the House of Representatives by a 375-48 margin at 5:05pm today.

"This is the most important property-rights legislation to come out of the House this year," said Drug Policy Foundation Senior Policy Analyst Scott Ehlers. "Americans are a step closer to being protected from some of the worst abuses of police power."

Ehlers said that proponents of the bill were hoping that it would pass by a wide enough margin for the Senate to take notice. "The House has clearly and resoundingly said that property rights are important and that the Senate should pass this bill."

An amendment by Reps. Asa Hutchinson (R-AR) and Anthony Weiner (D-NY), which would have watered down H.R. 1658 and strengthened civil asset forfeiture laws, failed by a 268-155 vote. H.R. 1658 would make numerous changes to civil forfeiture law, including:

  • Forcing the government to prove that seized property is related to a crime, as opposed to the current practice of the owners' having to prove that their property is not guilty;
  • Creating an "innocent owner" defense, whereby property owners unaware of criminal activity occurring on their property could recover their property;
  • Providing indigent defendants with appointed counsel; and
  • Eliminating the cost-bond requirement, which currently requires property owners to pay up to $5,000 or 10 percent of the seized property's value in order to contest the seizure in court.
(Thanks to the many of you who responded to our asset forfeiture alerts. We will alert you when there is a bill to lobby for in the Senate. Visit http://www.fear.org for further information.)

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Issue #96, 6/25/99 Governor of New Mexico Calls Drug War Failed -- Calls for Discussion of Alternatives | Hyde's Civil Asset Forfeiture Reform Act Passes House Easily | Vancouver's Cannabis Cafe, Hemp BC Closed | Activist Banned from Talking About Marijuana | NEW YORK: Staten Island Assemblyman Wants Needle Exchange Banned | IDAHO: "Drug Bust: The Longest War" TV Special Preempted by Drug Testing Speech in Boise | News in Brief | Supreme Court Roundup | WASHINGTON: Free Video and Lunch-Talk Series | Editorial: Can't Keep a Good Idea Down
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