CA asset forfeiture reform fails

Asset forfeitureAfter passing the state Senate overwhelmingly, California’s bipartisan attempt to reform asset forfeiture laws ran aground in the Assembly, victim of a powerful lobbying campaign conducted by law enforcement and its allies.

Golden State cops teamed with prosecutors to sink the legislation once it became clear that the Senate vote had made it a viable threat to current forfeiture law, which permits law enforcement to keep confiscated property worth under $25,000 even if the former owner is not convicted of a crime. Through these so-called forfeitures, police departments across the country have been able to swell or cushion their budgets — sometimes substantially.

A tide turned

But in spite of protections that have made California’s asset forfeiture rules more stringent than others, lawmakers in both parties zeroed in on the practice as excessive and sometimes unjustifiable. State Sen. Holly Mitchell, D-Los Angeles, and Assemblyman David Hadley, R-Torrance, advanced legislation that would have returned property valued at any amount without a conviction. But after the state Senate version, SB443, won in a 38-1 vote, bipartisan support for the bill began to dry up, despite efforts to scale it back in committee and dispel budgeting worries. “The bill was opposed by Republicans and some Democrats, and failed on a 24-41 vote in the Assembly. It could be revived on the floor in the future,” the Los Angeles Times noted, although this year, the deadline for passing new legislation itself has passed.

Adding to the uphill climb, the federal government did its own part to pressure the state to abandon reform. “Documents obtained by the Institute for Justice show that the California District Attorneys Association has been circulating emails from the Justice and Treasury Departments confirming that the current reforms proposed to California’s civil asset forfeiture laws would make the state ineligible to receive millions of dollars through the federal government’s Equitable Sharing Program,” according to the Daily Signal, a news site run by The Heritage Foundation.

Through that program, which gives a cut of seizures to agencies at the state and local level, California law enforcement netted nearly $90 million last year, the Daily Signal noted.

Other states advancing asset forfeiture reforms have also faced similar pressure to that inflicted on California. But they have met with mixed results. “The Departments of Justice and Treasury threatened New Mexico with ending it equitable sharing program if reforms were passed. In response, New Mexico not only passed asset forfeiture reform, but abolished it entirely,” observed Americans for Tax Reform. “In May of this year, Montana passed asset forfeiture reform that requires a criminal conviction prior to permanent forfeiture, as well as several other requirements that beef up protections for property owners. Other states making strides in asset forfeiture reform are Minnesota, North Carolina and Michigan.”

Looking ahead

So far, advocates for California forfeiture reform have not talked up the prospect of reintroducing a bill for next year’s legislative session. According to Reason, however, another option remained — a ballot initiative building on past successes with reducing some criminal penalties, paring down the so-called “three strikes” law, and encouraging treatment instead of jail time for lesser drug offenses. “But that’s a plan that would have some timing issues,” Reason noted, with organizers unlikely to get a measure before voters until the off-year election in 2018. Nevertheless, “if the polling is accurate, it’s certainly an option if they aren’t able to push legislation through by then.” According to Americans for Tax Reform, California respondents expressed hostility to asset forfeitures “by a massive 76 percent to 14 percent.” Despite the reform bill’s setback in Sacramento, little seemed likely to shift that imbalance in the months and years to come.

20 comments

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  1. Donkey
    Donkey 30 September, 2015, 06:51

    Of course it failed. The Law Enforcement RAGWUS is the most expensive bureaucracy in America and they scream like feral children when accountability gets to close, with threats of using the taxpayers money against the politicians in the coming election. 🙂

    Reply this comment
  2. Bill Gore
    Bill Gore 30 September, 2015, 07:37

    Federales in Mexico have been conducting ‘asset forfeiture’ for decades. They pull you over, search you and your car, and right in front of you, grinning, pull the cash out of your wallet and hand back an empty wallet with an insane form you have to mail to Mexico City to try to get your money back. A joke! (Un chiste!) Now our PIGS are swathed in BLACK, with SHAVED HEADS and nasty steroid-induced attitudes. Just begging for some ice-cold ‘resistance’…..

    Reply this comment
  3. Ulysses Uhaul
    Ulysses Uhaul 30 September, 2015, 09:07

    Whew!

    Reply this comment
  4. Dyspeptic
    Dyspeptic 30 September, 2015, 10:58

    Yet more proof (as if we needed any) that the enforcement caste of unionized cops and corrupt prosecutors own both political parties. The Repulsivecans are particularly enamored of the badge wearing thugocracy and worship them as demi-gods. Just listen to any of the rightwing radio blowhards and you will get an earful of jackboot licking and asinine blather about a “War on Police”. Of course they have it exactly backward.

    The Demoncrats are no better and will kowtow to any public sector union, their gaseous rhetoric about civil rights notwithstanding. Neither of these pathetic political parties give a damn about protecting the common folk from a predatory pack of government parasites. They like having us ground down under a sea of black leather tactical boots. It keeps us frightened and subservient and them smug, rich, powerful and corrupt as hell.

    Reply this comment
  5. Rex the Wonder Dog!
    Rex the Wonder Dog! 30 September, 2015, 11:23

    The problem here is with the SCOTUS, this would not go anywhere without their misguided support….

    Reply this comment
  6. bob
    bob 30 September, 2015, 14:59

    I’m sure Moonbeam and Ponce DeLeon will rectify this right away, NOT!

    Reply this comment
  7. Deserttrek
    Deserttrek 30 September, 2015, 15:01

    the cops are on the whole far worse than many of the so called criminals

    Reply this comment
  8. Spurwing Plover
    Spurwing Plover 30 September, 2015, 15:16

    Moonbeam and his entire band of villian,s need to all be arrested and locked up and throw away the key

    Reply this comment
  9. Ulysses Uhaul
    Ulysses Uhaul 30 September, 2015, 17:51

    Recent posts are so childish….police and fireman are last stop gap protecting us from those who do harm.

    Pitiful…….shame.

    Reply this comment
  10. desmond
    desmond 30 September, 2015, 18:01

    Read that Black Panther organization would patrol LA armed in 1960’s to monitor police. Excellent idea to staff with guys, minimum height 6″5′, with an eye for detail. Baseball bats would be good. Civil forfeiture don t look like a good idea, when your head will end up in a shoebox. Crossbows are a nice touch for effective auditing.

    Reply this comment
    • NTHEOC
      NTHEOC 30 September, 2015, 21:23

      So Desmond, how many times have you watched the Hungar Games?? Lol. Get a life hater!!!

      Reply this comment
  11. Rex the Wonder Dog!
    Rex the Wonder Dog! 30 September, 2015, 18:32

    I will second that motion!

    Reply this comment
  12. Spurwing Plover
    Spurwing Plover 30 September, 2015, 23:15

    The Hunger Games Yeah mockingjay could use a Spurwing Plover Angry Angry shorebird

    Reply this comment
  13. desmond
    desmond 1 October, 2015, 03:32

    No Hunger Games. Love Death Wish with Charles Bronson. Also, liked
    Nuremberg Trials. Hanging SS is just so right. Some of the crimes involved theft by the police state.

    Reply this comment

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