Hawaii has some of the worst civil asset forfeiture laws in the U.S., according to a report released this week by the Institute for Justice.
The state was given a grade of D-minus.
Asset forfeiture is the increasingly controversial practice of police seizing personal property under the suspicion that it’s tied to a crime.
People don’t necessarily have to be convicted to have their home, car or business taken away from them.
Hawaii law enforcement officers seize and keep an average of $1.2 million worth of property a year.
Some states, including Hawaii, only need to show that there’s a preponderance of evidence of wrongdoing to seize someone’s property. It’s often up to owners to then prove their innocence or risk losing their property.
That’s why the Institute for Justice, a nonprofit, libertarian law firm, says civil asset forfeiture threatens the rights of Americans.
But the nonprofit also says the practice is ripe for abuse because law enforcement typically gets to keep the property and the proceeds from selling it.
That, of course, gives police an incentive to seize more stuff, the institute argues, and the value of property taken over the years seem to bear it out.
Check out this video to see just how much money we’re talking about. (It’s in the billions.)