Hawaii has long been criticized for its asset forfeiture statutes, which allow police to seize and sell property if they believe it may have been used in a crime. In 2015, the State Auditor found that prosecutors only secured convictions in about a quarter of cases where property was seized.
Senate Bill 294 would have stopped law enforcement from selling seized property without a conviction. The bill, however, would have allowed police to seize the property, just not sell it.
Law enforcement officials contend asset forfeiture is a powerful deterrent to crime and that lawmakers shouldn’t raise the burden on the agencies. Gov. David Ige vetoed a similar bill in 2019.