Syrita Bowen Arkansas, News, Press

Senate Bill 308 Strengthens and Protects Property Rights, Due Process; Flies Through Arkansas House with Unanimous Vote 

Legislation Heads to Governor Hutchinson for His Signature 

(LITTLE ROCK, ARKANSAS) – Today, the Arkansas House of Representatives approved the Civil Asset Forfeiture Reform Act of 2019, landmark legislation that instates stronger due process protections for innocent property owners. The bill was approved with a unanimous 93-0 vote in the House after a unanimous 38-0 vote in the Senate. The bill was championed by Senate Majority Leader Bart Hester (R-1) and Representative Austin McCollum (R-95).

Senate Bill 308 overhauls Arkansas’ forfeiture proceedings by requiring a criminal conviction before an individual can have his or her property forfeited by the state, with certain exceptions. 

“Today, Arkansas established itself as a leader for due process and property rights for all Arkansans by passing 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 spearheading this legislation, as well as their colleagues on both sides of the aisle for standing together on this important issue. We look forward to Governor Hutchinson signing this bill into law.”

“Today, Arkansas took a big step forward to ensure assets from innocent Arkansans will not be seized by the state,” said Senate Majority Leader Bart Hester. “It was my pleasure to sit down with criminal justice reform advocates from the Justice Action Network and the Arkansas Prosecuting Attorneys Association and develop legislation which sets guilt as condition of forfeiture.  We will continue to work together to see this goal through and prevent the opportunity for over reach by the state.” 

“It was my pleasure to work with Arkansas’ Prosecutors and the Justice Action Network to develop a policy everyone agrees is the right policy, a policy which prevents our state from seizing and keeping assets from individuals who are not guilty,” said Representative Austin McCollum. “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.” 

The legislation now will be delivered to Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson for his consideration.