Civil forfeiture is one of the greatest threats to private property rights in North Dakota. It allows police to seize — and then keep or sell — any property they allege is involved in a crime. Owners don’t even have to be convicted for their cash, cars, or even real estate to be taken away permanently by the government!
This year, North Dakota legislators had the opportunity to substantially reform our state’s civil forfeiture laws through House Bill 1286, and the ACLU supported the bill.
But conference committee amendments, like the one that removed the requirement of conviction, essentially gutted the legislation, eliminating all the protections the bill was supposed to include. The ACLU of North Dakota could no longer support the bill. Still, the North Dakota House and Senate passed the bill.
That’s why we’re asking you to email Governor Burgum and ask him to veto House Bill 1286. We can’t continue to let police departments use forfeiture to benefit their bottom lines, making seizures motivated by profit rather than fighting crime. We need real civil forfeiture reforms – not a bill signed into law that’s a shadow of what it once was.
Decisions made during the biannual sessions of the North Dakota Legislature have a deep and lasting impact on our state’s people and communities. As new laws are created and others repealed or written, it’s important to ensure that these changes preserve and strengthen our constitutional rights.