Syrita Bowen Arkansas, News, Press

Legislation Strengthens and Protects Property Rights & Due Process with Conviction Requirement 

(LITTLE ROCK, ARKANSAS) – Today, the Justice Action Network, the largest bipartisan organization working to reform the justice system at the state and federal level, applauded Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson for signing the Senate Bill 308, the Civil Asset Forfeiture Reform Act of 2019, into law. Senate Bill 308 instates stronger due process protections for Arkansans by requiring a criminal conviction before property can be forfeited by the state. The legislation received overwhelming bipartisan support, passing unanimously in both chambers.

The Civil Asset Forfeiture Act of 2019 was championed by  Senate Majority Leader Bart Hester (R-1) and Representative Austin McCollum (R-95), whose leadership drove this bill to unanimous passage in both legislative chambers, before being signed into law by Governor Hutchinson today.

“Today, Arkansas established itself as a leader for due process and property rights for all Arkansans by enacting this landmark civil asset forfeiture reform legislation,” said Jenna Moll, Deputy Director of the Justice Action Network. “We applaud Senate Majority Leader Hester and Representative McCollum for their leadership on this issue, as well as their colleagues in both the House and Senate for their unanimous votes. We also thank Governor Hutchinson for his support and for swiftly signing this bill into law.” 

“I’m proud to have sponsored a bill that ensures assets from innocent Arkansans will not be forfeited by the state,” said Senate Majority Leader Bart Hester. “We’ve shown that it’s possible to work across the aisle, as well as with law enforcement and the Arkansas Prosecuting Attorneys Association, to pass legislation that sets guilt as condition of forfeiture, preventing the opportunity for overreach by the state. I’m thankful the Governor signed this landmark bill into law.”  

“This bill is a testament to finding agreement, talking through practical challenges, and raising the standard to ensure our citizens have more protections in place. I was honored to sponsor it,” said Representative Austin McCollum. “I’d like to thank my colleagues in the Senate and in the House for getting this bill across the finish line. Thank you, Governor Hutchinson, for signing this important bill into law today.”