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Ohio civil forfeiture reform bill set to pass next week

By   /   December 1, 2016  /   No Comments

A bill designed to curb civil forfeiture practices in Ohio is set to pass next week despite opposition from the state’s law enforcement community.

The U.S. Justice Action Network, a coalition of conservative and progressive organizations, and fellow proponents of the bill appear to be closing in on victory after an eighteen-month battle for reform.

The bill, which passed the state House in May, is expected to see a Senate vote next week. Originally the bill would have eliminated the practice of civil forfeiture entirely. Opposition from prosecutors and police chiefs pushed lawmakers to amend the measure to allow for the seizure of assets valued at more than $25,000.

Critics of the bill such as John Murphy, executive director of the Ohio Prosecuting Attorneys Association, argue that the state’s civil forfeiture law provides sufficient protections and says concerns regarding abuses are the result of overreach by authorities in other states.

Supporters say it strikes an appropriate balance between protecting the interests of private citizens and those of law enforcement.

Robert Alt, president of the Buckeye Institute for Public Policy Solutions, emphasized the bill’s potential to reverse the negative public perception of law enforcement spurred by forfeiture abuses.

“This will remove that stain with how it is perceived that they are operating,” he said.

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John Crowe is a Fall 2016 Journalism Fellow for Watchdog.org.