In 2018, Kansas was able to take a first step toward having better controls over asset forfeiture by passing a law that mandates greater transparency over assets seized by law enforcement officers. This year,focus should continue on achieving better asset forfeiture controls and best practices.
Civil asset forfeiture first came into play in the 1980s, during the height of the crack cocaine epidemic. The assets of suspects that were linked to certain criminal activities could be seized and then forfeited to the government. This was viewed as a significant part of fighting the crack cocaine wars. But in our successes, we got greedy and state legislatures saw an opportunity to supplant law enforcement budgets with these seized assets. And over the years, the burden of proof for these seizures has been lowered significantly to the point where criminal charges are no longer even needed.