What’s Next for Justice? Civil Asset Forfeiture and the Path Forward in New Mexico

In 2015, New Mexico became one of the first states to largely abolish civil asset forfeiture. The legislature unanimously passed and Gov. Susana Martinez signed a bill requiring that a person be convicted of a criminal offense before having his or her property seized. The reform was perhaps surprising given the state’s record: Since 2008, New Mexico law enforcement agencies have spent $24.5 million in seized funds.

Despite facing serious opposition from federal, state, and local levels of law enforcement, New Mexico’s civil forfeiture reform has signaled serious changes for the state’s criminal justice system.

Can New Mexico policymakers use this momentum from enacting civil asset forfeiture reform not only to defend their hard-earned gains but to provide a springboard towards additional, meaningful criminal justice reforms in the state? What other areas of reform are necessary to increase public safety and reduce the high cost of both crime and incarceration? How can New Mexico’s reform serve as a model for the rest of the United States?

Please join the Charles Koch Institute and the Rio Grande Foundation for dinner and a discussion on the future of justice in New Mexico, featuring remarks from those involved in the reform process.

MODERATOR

Paul J. Gessing, President, Rio Grande Foundation

PANELISTS

Steven Robert Allen, Director of Public Policy, American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of New Mexico
Brad Cates, Former Director, U.S. Department of Justice Asset Forfeiture Program
Diego Esquibel, Attorney, The Barnett Law Firm
Vikrant Reddy, Senior Research Fellow, Charles Koch Institute

REMARKS

Representative Conrad James (R), New Mexico House of Representatives
Representative Antonio Maestas (D), New Mexico House of Representatives

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