Hawaii Asset Forfeiture Reform Appears Dead This Year (SB294)

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.