What Happened When New Mexico Ended Civil Asset Forfeiture?

In 2015, New Mexico scrapped its civil asset forfeiture laws and replaced them with a criminal process requiring a conviction before forfeiture can commence. Law enforcement lobbyists warned that ending civil forfeiture would cause crime to skyrocket. So, what actually happened?

In a nutshell, nothing.

When the legislature was debating the 2015 reforms, law enforcement came out with dire warnings. The New Mexico Department of Public safety claimed that ending civil forfeiture would have “a negative impact on public safety” and could trigger a “reduction in criminal investigations.” In the bill analysis, the department testified, “This bill directly jeopardizes the most basic and fundamental key to successful narcotics investigations.”

The chair of the New Mexico Sheriff’s Association simply asserted, “You’ll get less law enforcement,” without civil asset forfeiture.

It didn’t turn out that way.

The Institute for Justice compared crime rates in neighboring Texas and Colorado for its Policing for Profit report and determined that “New Mexico’s overall crime rate did not rise following the implementation of strong forfeiture reform in 2015, nor did arrest rates drop.”

In fact, the overall trend in New Mexico’s offense rate was “even flatter than those for the control states.”

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Author: HP McLovincraft

Seeker of rabbit holes. Pessimist. Libertine. Contrarian. Your huckleberry. Possibly true tales of sanity-blasting horror also known as abject reality. Prepare yourself. Veteran of a thousand psychic wars. I have seen the fnords. Deplatformed on Tumblr and Twitter.

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