Asset forfeiture reform bill falls victim to COVID-shortened session

Asset forfeiture abuse motivated by money, say critics

Critics say abuse is rampant in the system, which was originally intended for the assets of major criminal enterprises but is largely used for smaller-scale offenders.

Democratic opposition doomed reforms

While assorted criminal justice reform organizations backed SB1556, House Democrats, normally their staunch allies on reform measures, unanimously voted against the bill, ensuring its defeat. The GOP holds a bare 31–29 majority in the House, meaning they can’t afford to lose a single vote on any legislation opposed by the Democrats.

Prosecutors: Bill would have shielded criminal assets

One of the biggest points of contention is whether prosecutors would still have the ability to seize property and hold it while a criminal case plays out.

‘Surprise’ that there even was a vote

Nate Wade, a Pima County public defender who serves on the board of Arizona Attorneys for Criminal Justice, which supported the bill, said he was disappointed to hear “a lot of political talk” and objections that “prosecutors and law enforcement would have their budgets affected.”

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Creosote Partners

Creosote Partners

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Creosote Partners is an Arizona firm focused on legislative advocacy, coalition building, and strategic communications.