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FreedomWorks Foundation delivered the following testimony Friday, February 26 before the Georgia House of Representatives Subcommittee on the Judiciary (Civil). The subcommittee heard testimony on legislation, HB 832, which would require a criminal conviction before property seized by the government can be subjected to civil asset forfeiture. State Rep. Scot Turner (R-Holly Springs) is the primary sponsor of the bill and invited FreedomWorks Foundation to testify.
The effort to reform Georgia's terrible civil asset forfeiture laws received an unexpected boost Monday when Michael McNeely, 1st Vice Chairman of the Georgia Republican Party and a former police officer, presented a compelling case for changes recently introduced by state Rep. Scot Turner (R-Holly Springs). Turner's legislation, HB 832, would make a slight tweak to Georgia forfeiture law that would require judges to stay forfeiture proceedings until prosecutors obtain a criminal conviction.
Georgia has become the latest in a long line of states looking to reform its civil asset forfeiture program. A growing number of people are apparently waking up to the common sense idea that the government shouldn’t seize private property from people when they haven’t been convicted of - or even charged with - a crime.
Justice reform has become a hot topic on Capitol Hill. Members of Congress from both parties are pushing for substantive reforms that would bring rehabilitative programs to the federal corrections system, modify out-of-date sentencing laws, make communities safer, and reduce burdens on taxpayers. But reform would not be possible if conservative states had not previously paved the road.
It is easy to look at the decline in violent crime rates and believe that lengthy prison sentences mandated by Congress were the catalyst. Unfortunately, Wall Street Journal columnist Jason Riley recently made this utterly misleading argument. But as the Brennan Center for Justice explained in a February 2015 study, crime rates fell because of "various social, economic, and environmental factors, such as growth in income and an aging population." Lengthy sentences that contributed to the sharp rise of prison populations had very little to do with it.
Last week, Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) gave his support to the SAFE Justice Act, a comprehensive bill that would make a number of significant and substantive changes to federal sentencing and prison policies that have contributed the boom in federal corrections spending. Boehner's support is the most recent and, perhaps, most notable example of the growing consensus on Capitol Hill for justice reform.
A Georgia lawmaker, state Rep. Alan Powell (R-Hartwell), has filed legislation that would, if passed, make it extraordinarily difficult for Uber, Lyft, and other ridesharing services to operate in the Peach State.