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BOSTON , Mass. (March 16, 2022) – A bill introduced in the Massachusetts Senate would reform the state’s asset forfeiture laws to remove the financial incentive for state and local police to participate in the federal “equitable sharing” program.
Sen. Cynthia Creem (D) and a coalition of Democrats introduced Senate Bill 2671 ( S2671 ) on Feb. 10. Under the proposed law, all asset forfeiture proceeds would be deposited in the state’s general fund. Under current law, Massachusetts law enforcement agencies can keep up to 100 percent of forfeiture proceeds.
The proposed law would also remove the incentive to pass cases off to the federal government by requiring equitable sharing money to be deposited in the general fund.
S2671 would allow a property owner to stay a forfeiture hearing until criminal proceedings are complete.
The Institute for Justice calls Massachusetts’ asset forfeiture laws “ the worst in the country .”
While some people believe the Supreme Court “ended asset forfeiture, its opinion in Timbs v. Indiana ended nothing . Without further action, civil asset forfeiture remains. Additionally, as law professor Ilya Somin noted , the Court left an important issue unresolved. What exactly counts as “excessive” in the civil forfeiture context? “That is likely to be a hotly contested issue in the lower federal courts over the next few years. The ultimate effect of today’s decision depends in large part on how that question is resolved. If courts rule that only a few unusually extreme cases qualify as excessive, the impact of Timbs might be relatively marginal.” Going forward, opponents of civil asset forfeiture could wait and see how lower federal courts will address this “over the next few years,” or they can do what a number of states have already taken steps to do, end the practice on a state level, […]
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