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Hawaii lawmakers look to audit civil asset forfeiture unit

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Hawaii lawmakers want to know how often police are seizing people’s property, and what happens with money they make from selling it.

Right now, law enforcement can take Hawaii residents’ property without a conviction as long as it’s tied to a crime. Then, they can sell it and keep the profits.

But lawmakers say that can promote abuse of the state’s civil asset forfeiture law. In response, they’re considering a resolution to ask for an audit to figure out how law enforcement and prosecutors are using money made from selling seized property. It would also examine how many times property was seized in cases where there weren’t convictions.

The American Civil Liberties Union of Hawaii says the state has one of the worst asset forfeiture laws in the nation.

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      • Nope, pays for police equipment (county does not have to pay for), narco dogs (about 6-7 thousand piece), training of police officers, any buy money-narcotics, gambling… etc. It funds things that city and county doesn’t have to pay for. There will be ways around which will actually hurt State, officers will use Federal Civil Seizure Laws. Some narco officers will be deputized buy feds, by pass state go directly to Fed court. Then seizure is a split two ways cutting state out. Chinatown police station and portions of that block was the result of a joint seizure between Feds and city in a hugh narcotics operation run out of bar at the station site. City actually benefits. By creating law State wants a piece if they action… good luck.

  • Civil asset forfeiture without a conviction is one of the disgusting program that should have no place in a free and civil society. It is theft by the State on us and it needs to go. Forget the audit, get rid of it, and not like Pr. Obama’s turn around, flip flop.

    • Agree 1000%!!! This has become a much abused SCAM by local “law enforcement” agencies. Unconstitutional, unfair, unAmerican!!! (or should I say, VERY American?)

  • Policing for profit just breeds police corruption from the top down. Across the nation innocent people have had their assets confiscated for doing nothing wrong, no evidence they committed any crime. Cops were just out on the job to make money, get a commission.

    We do not need more of this in the Nei. HPD has enough problems with the weak link police chief. They should not get any assets until a court has found them guilt. No more leeching off of innocent people.

    • It’s the institute for justice that fights more for the victims of this scam, and money grab that’s been pushed on us. End it! It’s theft, it’s disgusting, get a conviction or go pound sand.

  • It’s about time.
    How many store owners have had difficulties or gone out of business because these thieves steal their hard earned money.
    How many employees have had their salaries delayed or not paid because the people we pay to protect us steal from their employers.
    How long will it take for these legislators to wake up and change the law so the public is no longer being illegally fleeced by their government?

  • It may be legal but it should be illegal as the very nature of the act smells of strong arming and downright criminal. Just because it has been allowed for so long dies not make it okay.

  • This is just another of the outrageous initiatives that was forced upon us in the ’70s by the so-called “war on drugs”, which is why we got it early and it’s one of the nation’s worst. It’s bred corruption from the very beginning, and over the decades the plundering has only gotten worse.

    At least originally, forfeiture wasn’t used until after conviction. But then folks got greedy. Nowadays the forfeiture basically occurs on arrest, and even if the person isn’t charged, it’s really hard to get one’s assets back. In numerous cases, someone’s traveling interstate with money, they get pulled over on an opportunistic traffic stop, the money is seized on a pretext and they’re sent on their way, an egregious violation of due process.

    They’ll seize anything of value — even the kids’ stuff, even stuff clearly unrelated to the alleged crime. The easy money breeds a corrupt third world attitude and it keeps getting worse every year. I hope the auditors can turn over this big flat rock and see what’s underneath.

    • “The Auditors” will probably be selected by Caldwell and his gang. Do you really believe there will be an honest audit and full disclosures?

    • Seizure hurts drug operations more then arrest. In Hawaii it works this way, money out drug’s in. Gangs like USO, hook up with cartel in prison establish distribution lines in Hawaii. See it at the airport every day. Money out, drugs in at post office. Distribution centers are public housing….. USO can spot outsiders right away. Ever notice why homeless hang around Nimtz, close to KPT. Ever notice all the copper stolen is Also in this area. Ever notice where all the stolen copper is sold, Sand Island. What is real bad now, black tar showing up in Hawaii. Use to be used mostly by Mexicans – illegals working on nonunion contracts or agriculture industry. Appears locals now have desire for this drug, which is heroin.

  • At some point actual facts will come to light. If you use your car to deal dope. You loose it. If you buy your house with money embezzled or otherwise scammed from innocent victims you loose it. If you use your business to launder money you or your co-conspirator got from human trafficking you lose it. Everyone has a choice. Judges have returned property to people because the Forfeiture Case wasn’t strong enough. No one has to commit crime. If you decide to roll the dice don’t whine when you roll craps.

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