Senator Declan O’Scanlon’s legislation expanding transparency and reporting requirements of assets seized by law enforcement has been approved by the Senate Budget and Appropriations Committee.
Sen. Declan O’Scanlon’s legislation expanding transparency and reporting requirements of assets seized by law enforcement has been approved by the Senate Budget and Appropriations Committee. (SenateNJ)
“Accountability is paramount when law enforcement agencies seize assets from people, including homes and cars, which may have been utilized in illegal activity,” O’Scanlon (R-13) said. “We need to balance efforts to remove instruments employed in criminal activity with the property rights of owners. It can be extremely difficult for the owner to regain possession of a seized asset, even if no wrongdoing has been proven. Requiring the regular reporting of seized assets will improve transparency to ensure that the process of asset forfeiture isn’t abused.”
O’Scanlon’s bipartisan legislation, S-1963, requires county prosecutors to compile and submit to the Attorney General quarterly reports concerning asset seizure and forfeiture by law enforcement agencies within that county.
According to the Institute for Justice, county prosecutors across New Jersey collected $72 million in forfeiture proceeds from 2009 to 2013, including more than $57 million in cash and vehicles worth $9 million.
“This transparency will be essential in order for us to determine the necessity of future asset forfeiture policy or reforms,” O’Scanlon added. “We support our law enforcement officers and don’t want to see them pushed by their superiors to aggressively seize assets to help balance their local budgets. Heightened transparency will discourage policing for profit and make New Jersey a safer place for all.”