Oklahoma City, OK 73105
For Immediate Release: September 24, 2015
Sen. Kyle Loveless discusses asset forfeiture reform.
The creation of a hotline for victims of asset forfeiture was announced
at the press conference on Thursday.
Majority of Oklahomans support asset forfeiture
reform, new data reveals
Sen. Kyle D.
Loveless (R-Oklahoma City) joined with the Oklahoma Council
of Public Affairs, the Oklahoma Policy Institute, and the American
Civil Liberties Union of Oklahoma at the state Capitol on Thursday
to release the results of a recent poll commissioned by OCPA and
The poll, conducted by SoonerPoll, asked participants a series of
questions relating to civil asset forfeiture and law enforcement.
Eighty-one percent of respondents had a favorable view of law enforcement
officers and 70 percent (69.9%) support legislation requiring a
criminal conviction before the government can take ownership of
“I am pleased with the results of this poll, but I’m
not surprised. Oklahomans have a clear understanding of the proper
role of government; and forfeiting property without convicting a
citizen of a crime does not fit into that role,” said Loveless.
“Oklahomans support law enforcement, but they also support
the ideals of our constitution. District Attorneys and the courts
must protect citizen’s property rights equally with life and
liberty—it’s the American way.”
Senate Bill 838 aims to reform the process by which the government
forfeits property. Law enforcement may seize property with probable
cause suspicion for evidentiary purposes. The property is then turned
over to the district attorney who files a lawsuit against the property
for its role in the suspected criminal activity. The new law will
not affect the seizing of property, but will ensure there is a criminal
conviction before the government takes ownership of the suspect
property. Loveless has indicated a timeline will be included in
the final legislation requiring criminal charges to be brought within
a certain time or suspected property must be returned to its owner.
“We give our police and district attorneys a lot of power
to do a hard job, but they are still human beings who make mistakes,”
said David Blatt, executive director of Oklahoma Policy Institute.
“That's why we need better safeguards on civil asset forfeiture
to protect innocent Oklahomans and avoid creating bad incentives
that can distort the important work of law enforcement.”
Groups from all political stripes are joining Loveless in a coalition
that was highlighted during the press conference.
“This is a liberty issue,” said Oklahoma Second Amendment
Association leadership in a recent press release. “This is
a moral issue. It is wrong and immoral for a government to use its
spear to force you to give up your property without having to prove
you have done something wrong.”
The poll also revealed Oklahomans overwhelmingly see the current
civil asset forfeiture process as a violation of due process and
“The Oklahoma Council of Public Affairs is proud to stand
today in support of Oklahomans’ rights to private property
and due process,” said Trent England, vice president for strategic
initiatives. “Arguments about government efficiency do not
trump the Fourth or Fifth Amendments, just like they do not trump
the First or Second Amendments. Today’s results from SoonerPoll
should make us all proud, as they show once again that most Oklahomans
are steadfast defenders of constitutional rights and individual
Recent reports have shown more than half of cash forfeitures along
Oklahoma’s Interstate 40 over the past five years did not
have any accompanying criminal conviction.
“The problems inherent in taking people’s property regardless
of whether they are found guilty of any crime are both easily understood
and easily solved, and an overwhelming majority of Oklahomans now
realize that we cannot continue to make funding for public safety
dependent on the financial success of drug cartels,” said
Brady Henderson, legal director, American Civil Liberties Union
Loveless also announced the creation of a hotline for victims of
civil asset forfeiture abuse to tell their story—that number
is (866) 901-7559.
For more information, contact: