8 ways South Carolina can enact fairer laws on civil forfeiture

Some South Carolina legislators have talked for years about making reforms to the civil asset forfeiture legal code. They’ve cited a lack of due process for victims, many of them minorities, caught in a trap where their money is “guilty” and taken even if they themselves are never found guilty of a crime.

They’ve cited abuse of the law that gives police departments the profit from the money or possessions they take. But to date, the General Assembly has done nothing.

That may change.

“I think it’s way past time to have a serious discussion about what is appropriate,” said Rep. Garry Smith, R-Simpsonville.

A bipartisan group of lawmakers, in reaction to the TAKEN investigation, is pushing a plan to widely overhaul South Carolina law concerning forfeiture.

“It helps to have both sides look at this issue and go ‘this is not right.’ That usually helps move a bill along,” said Rep. Todd Rutherford, D-Richland.