Senate committee votes to end civil forfeiture by police

MONTGOMERY, Ala. (AP) — A proposal before Alabama lawmakers could prevent prosecutors from seizing property for suspected criminal activity unless the person has been convicted of a crime.

The Senate Judiciary Committee on Wednesday approved a bill to change the process known as civil asset forfeiture. Senators said they expect additional negotiations on the bill before a floor vote.

State law allows prosecutors to seize property through a civil lawsuit when there is suspected criminal activity. The bill would require a criminal conviction.

Shay Farley of the Southern Poverty Law Center said requiring a conviction would end a “backwards policy of guilty until proven innocent.”

Barry Matson of the Alabama District Attorneys Association said advocacy groups, who contend the process is abused, have presented a misleading picture of how civil forfeiture is used.