DENVER - It goes like this:
You are suspected of a crime. Your assets are seized by federal law enforcement -- could be a bank account, a car, or your house. Even if you're never convicted, you have to go to civil court to fight for your property.
Law enforcement says civil forfeiture is needed to fight organized crime. The state legislature overwhelmingly passed a bill to reform civil forfeiture. Its sponsors - Democratic Representative Leslie Herod, of Denver, and Republican State Senator Tim Neville, or Littleton - are proof that legislators with seemingly little in common politically can find common ground.
Herod says it's fundamentally wrong to keep someone's property, if they haven't been convicted of a crime.
"When I heard about this practice happening, I knew that I wanted to one, learn more about the issue, and then address it head on," she says.
Neville agrees, saying people in this position are not granted the due process you'd expect to see in the system. They both believe this isn't an issue or partisanship, despite a divided legislature.
"We understand the issue and the problem, and then it's just a question of working together. Finding these opportunities to work together, they're bills that I truly enjoy," Neville says.
Governor Hickenlooper has not yet signed this bill into law; based on positive reception in the House and Senate, Herod and Neville believe it has a strong chance of being signed.
If the bill becomes law, that law would implement stricter reporting for law enforcement - including if charges were filed, all seizures will be listed in a searchable database and there would be fines for noncompliance.
You can watch a portion of our interview with Herod and Neville above, and the full thing below:
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