Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Colorado governor signs civil forfeiture reform bill

Civil forfeiture reform protects Colorado property owners | - Bill Grant, Grand Junction Daily Sentinel:

August 23, 2017 -  "The Civil Forfeiture reform bill (HB1313) signed by Gov. John Hickenlooper last Friday makes Colorado the latest of more than 20 states that have limited the power of law enforcement agencies to seize cash and property from suspected drug dealers or other detained individuals without due process, including arrest and filing charges.

Hickenlooper was not initially a supporter of HB1313.... 'We used our weight to push against it,' Hickenlooper said. 'Usually when you push against something that hard and it still passes, it’s hard to stop it.'

"HB1313 prohibits seizing agencies from receiving proceeds from the federal government unless the value of the property and currency in the case exceeds $50,000 and the federal government commences a forfeiture proceeding that relates to a criminal case.

"HB1313 also provides new reporting requirements and puts limits on asset forfeiture proceeds government agencies can receive for crime-fighting purposes.

"This was not a partisan issue in the legislature. 'Civil asset forfeiture reform passed the legislature by a combined vote of 81 to 19,” the ACLU of Colorado said in a letter urging Hickenlooper to sign the bill. 'It was supported by Republicans, Democrats, libertarians, progressives and just about everyone in between,' Denise Maes, ACLU public policy director wrote. 'Coloradans want and deserve stronger protections when property is taken by police'...

"In a statement attached to HB1313 by Hickenlooper when he signed it, the governor identified additional reforms he would like to implement in the next legislative session to address fairness and protection of citizens facing civil asset forfeiture. 'Government should never keep assets seized from innocent people,' Hickenlooper wrote in his letter....

"Hickenlooper’s agenda for the next legislative session will build on the progress thus far toward reforming civil forfeiture laws. He has called on the Legislature to provide funds to current recipients of forfeiture proceeds to keep them whole, while removing any real or perceived financial interest in forfeitures by appropriating adequate funds to support the program."

"So long as police departments and county sheriffs continue to reap profits from forfeitures to use in their law enforcement programs, the incentive to seize property for profit is very real, critics contend."

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