Secure private property rights encourage economic growth. Studies have found that nations that protect private property rights experience more economic growth (Knack & Keefer, 1995; Leblang, 1996; Svensson, 1998; Weingast, 1995). Therefore, ensuring a strong system of private property rights and protections should be considered a pre-requisite to achieving growth and higher living standards. Modern civil asset forfeiture practices weaken private property rights by allowing the state to seize property without due process or public transparency. While these laws were originally intended to help police crackdown on organized crime, they create perverse economic incentives that can lead to abuse.
A renewed focus on this issue by national organizations has sparked citizen protection reforms in some states, but meaningful reforms have not been enacted in North Dakota. With civil asset forfeiture laws that heavily favor law enforcement, the strength of North Dakota’s private property rights could be in question. This policy paper will review the definition of civil asset forfeiture, clarify the laws in North Dakota, examine recent legislative attempts at reform, and, finally, make policy recommendations.
Civil Asset Forfeiture in North Dakota by Raheem Williams