This week California took another step towards reforming civil asset forfeiture—on Tuesday the California Assembly Committee unanimously passed a bipartisan bill that would significantly reign in law enforcement’s ability to seize property without first convicting someone of a crime.
Last month, according to the Tenth Amendment Center, the bill passed the state Senate 38-1. It now heads to the appropriations committee, and, if it passes there, to the state’s governor.
Although California already has some restrictions on forfeiture, the bill would also block police from participating in a federal program they currently use to skirt local law. This would tighten the percentage of seizures they can keep, and require a conviction before taking someone’s property,
Democratic state Sen. Holly J. Mitchell and Republican Assemblyman David Hadley cosponsored the bill.
Reform advocates have accused police of using seizures as a means of padding their budgets. “I think folks are using this as a budget augmentation strategy,” Mitchell said earlier this week.
The California Police Chiefs Association is battling the legislation, telling the Los Angeles Times that requiring a conviction is a “deceptively simple” proposition.