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Chicken-Fried News: Evaporating assets

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The police can’t take your stuff without proof that it was used in criminal activity, right?

Wrong.

Under Oklahoma law, all they need is suspicion, but some believe mere suspicion isn’t enough and that new laws need to be made to protect citizens.

The Huffington Post reported that Oklahoma Senator Kyle Loveless “sees this as a fundamental violation of people’s rights to due process and property and says the lax standards have gotten innocent people in Oklahoma caught in the civil asset forfeiture net.”

On the other hand, The Norman Transcript explained, “For law enforcement, the loss of a key funding source and a means to target drug traffickers without requiring a criminal conviction is under attack.”

University of Oklahoma (OU) College of Law hosted a debate on civil asset forfeiture Nov. 18, and the issue remained complicated.

Loveless, who is trying to pass Senate Bill 838 to change the law; First Assistant District Attorney Scott Rowland; Oklahoma City Police Maj. Bill Weaver; and Brady Henderson, ACLU of Oklahoma’s legal director, participated in the debate.

“I think that most people would agree that if we can convict and use criminals’ assets against them, that would be great — and that’s the whole concept,” Loveless told The Huffington Post on Nov. 13. “But the problem of it is, should we use that money before there’s a conviction? I don’t think so, because the person is not a drug dealer until they’re convicted under the law. We want to give law enforcement the tools, but not at the expense of innocent people’s stuff.”

The Norman Transcript explained that “Oklahoma City has an agreement with three to four counties it works with and 100 percent of the money seized is dedicated to narcotics enforcement. Without that money, the enforcement would decline.”

During the debate at OU, Weaver also said that law enforcement’s goal isn’t to take money from innocent people.

Henderson countered that appearances — and actual cases of misconduct — are partly to blame.

And since it was a debate, nobody came to any solid agreement.

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