Mitch Daniels Vetoes Codification of Forfeiture Abuse


The Drug War Chronicle reports that Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels has vetoed a forfeiture "reform" bill that would have codified the egregious abuses that Radley Balko has detailed here. In an effort to correct the perverse incentives created by letting law enforcement agencies benefit directly from the seizures they initiate, the state constitution assigns "all forfeitures" to a fund for public schools. But as Balko has reported, police and prosecutors routinely evade that requirement by contracting out forfeitures or grossly exaggerating the "expense of collection," which they are allowed to deduct from the revenue. The bill that Daniels vetoed, approved by the Republican-controlled legislature, would have defined the expense of collection as 90 percent of the proceeds. In his veto message (PDF) last month, Daniels called the change "unwarranted as policy and constitutionally unacceptable."

Balko's coverage of Indiana's forfeiture abuses can be found here, here, and here. Last month I noted a proposal from the Institute for Justice and the National Association of Criminal Defense Attorneys to abolish civil forfeiture, allowing seizure of property only after a criminal conviction.