Heartland posted regarding Oklahoma’s shameful asset forfeiture laws.
I wrote this on Facebook, opening with a quote from the article, duplicating here:
In all civil forfeitures in Oklahoma, property owners are presumed guilty and are forced to contest forfeiture and prove they were not aware their property was being used illegally.
Isn’t that enough for us, as Americans, don’t we honor and hold as sacred the Fifth Amendment? “No person shall […], nor be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation.”
Don’t we believe that? Shouldn’t we rid ourselves of the stench of takings without due process?
Don’t we also honor the 14th Amendment? “…nor shall any state deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.”
Don’t we also hold in highest regard the Golden Rule? Doesn’t each of us want full due legal process, full trial by impartial jury, when it is our stuff being taken? Proof beyond reasonable doubt.
We are talking of crimes here, not civil issues. We seem to pretend it is a civil issue, like the state is suing over the stuff, but no; it is being taken for a crime; the crime may even be assumed. There are no small number of instances where assets are taken, or even simply frozen (impounded), and no crime was ever even charged, much less proven. And with frozen assets, how does one even afford to mount a legal defense?
The entire notion of asset forfeiture until after full due process and proof of crime, and finding and assigning guilt, is totally reprehensible and should be anathema to all who claim to be American.
Perhaps, if Oklahoma will not rid itself of this blight, we can secede from the Union and declare ourselves the “Banana Republic of Sheriff Boss”. It seems to always be the Sheriffs in the lead fighting to keep taking property without due process.
State Senator Kyle Loveless, Kyle D. Loveless, I thank you for trying to improve the situation for all Oklahomans and for honoring our fundamental national values. Perhaps only small steps are politically possible, but we must start, and we must do more. Only full due process before forfeiture is just. Only justice will suffice.
Live justly, love mercy, walk humbly.