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Courts and Crime

Maine Among Handful Of States To Abolish Civil Forfeiture

Maine has become the fourth state to abolish civil forfeiture.

The sponsor of the proposal, Republican Representative Bill Bob Faulkingham, says civil forfeiture allowed law enforcement to seize a person's property before they were charged with a crime. The original intent of the law, he says, was to target drug traffickers. But according to the non-profit libertarian law firm, Institute for Justice, the average amount of a civil forfeiture in Maine is about $1600.

"The people who end up being the victims of civil forfeiture end up just being poor people," Faulkingham says.

Under the new law, law enforcement can only seize property after a criminal conviction, with limited exceptions. The proposal had bipartisan support in the legislature. The ACLU of Maine supports the law, saying it ends a "civil liberties nightmare."