Property Rights

Oklahoma Is the Latest State to Consider Curbing Police Power

A rare coalition of liberal and conservative groups is supporting bills against civil asset forfeiture around the country.

Crime scene tape is seen on March 13, 2015 in Dellwood, Missouri.

Photographer: Scott Olson/Getty Images

Last April, Oklahoma State Senator Kyle Loveless saw a surprising news story. Spurred by advocacy groups from the left and right, the Democratic senate and Republican house in neighboring New Mexico had passed a bill reining in cops. Governor Susana Martinez, a Republican rising star and former prosecutor, had signed it into law. The issue that crossed partisan boundaries? Civil asset forfeiture, a long-standing practice giving law enforcement agencies the power to confiscate property tied to a crime, even if they haven’t brought charges against the owners or won a conviction. “I had always thought this is gang money or drug money or something,” says Loveless, a conservative Republican. “I started doing research online—I started seeing terrible stories of innocent people’s stuff being taken.”

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