Free Minds & Free Markets

California Forfeiture Reform Bill Stalls in Assembly

Law and order lobbyists defeat due process.

It's possible that not even bipartisanship can trump law enforcement unions and prosecutors in California. A bill to require that police and prosecutors actually convict citizens of crimes before attempting to make them forfeit their assets or money failed to pass the Assembly this afternoon. The final vote was 24 aye, 41 nay.

I wrote about Senate Bill 443 yesterday. It was struggling after passing overwhelmingly in the Senate. Law and order reps inundated Assembly members with horror stories that the state would be ejected from the federal asset forfeiture program if California introduced tougher regulations, and that it would cost tens of millions of dollars (except, of course, they would still have access to the state's asset forfeiture program as an alternative, but never mind that). One Assembly member, defending civil asset forfeiture today, went so far as to suggest that not allowing police to take and keep cash and property without a conviction contributes to criminals murdering kids in the streets.

But despite the claims made yesterday, CJ Ciaramella, BuzzFeed's Washington editor, got a message from a Department of Justice spokesperson this afternoon stating that, actually, the most recent, stripped-down version of SB 443 would not threaten the state's participation in the federal program.


It looks like that information came too late to be used to counter what the police and prosecutors were telling their Assembly members. 

Photo Credit: Photographerlondon |

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

  • Duke||

    The house of representatives was intended to be the house of the common man, while the senate had been seen as the house of the aristocracy.

    So leave it to California for the side of the legislature that is supposed to stick up for the common man to instead stick it to him.

  • Dan Bongard||

    Could we please call them "police lobbyists" and not "law and order lobbyists"?

    Being robbed by the police is not my idea of law OR order.

  • Trouser-Pod (The blowhard)||

    Agreed. That's an undeserved courtesy to thieves.

  • CatoTheChipper||

    Ordinary thieves are much more noble than the pigs who engage in civil asset forfeiture. At least they don't tell you that you deserve to lose your property.

  • LarryA||

    Or pull out the "If you haven't done anything wrong you have nothing to worry about" BS.

    Which is pretty much the asset forfeit motto.

  • croaker||

    This is why police unions should be considered RICO and prosecuted as such.

  • LarryA||

    Police unions went along. City government is where the real push came from.

  • CatoTheChipper||

    I'd prefer a more accurate description: lobbyists for highwaymen, brigands, and bandits acting under color of law.

  • thrakkorzog||

    Yeah, I've been mugged robbed at gunpoint before. It scared the shit out of me, but at least the mugger didn't try to make some sort of moral justification for robbing me wanted money. That's downright honest compared to a lot of law enforcement agencies.

  • Paul.||

    Look, we can't slow down the flow of money with petty details like convictions and due process.

    There are Police Benevolent Assn softball uniforms at stake!

  • Fist of Etiquette||

    It looks like that information came too late to be used to counter what the police and prosecutors were telling their Assembly members.

    Assembly members were on the stick. No use checking for yourself. Just rely on the special interests feeding you information.

  • Atlas Slugged||

    I vote for Ice Cube for CA state assembly!

    Oh, wait, I'm not registered to vote in CA....

  • Paul.||

    Proving that would be racist. Vote away.

  • SamDod598||

    lol, US POlitics, best politics money can buy!

  • Moridin||

    I love the Screaming for Vengeance picture on the twitter account. lol

  • phenryinohio||

    Minor point to the kids in CA and elsewhere. There is a whole thing on that old parchment that covers this issue... If I recall properly, those who came before these morons called it the 4th amendment, well so do I. I know great great grandpa mentioned it when he talked about the British Crown and shit like that. He was pretty serious and grumpy about this stuff. Did we change that? No, there it is on wikipedia in 2015! Today even! Not gone, just forgotten.


Get Reason's print or digital edition before it’s posted online