Kara Bland’s 2010 Chevy Malibu still had temporary plates when police seized it for a crime she did not commit. She loaned it to the father of her daughter, who was arrested after picking up someone who had marijuana on him.

For six weeks, Bland took her 6-year-old daughter to school on a Chicago city bus and relatives helped her run errands before a judge released the car on bond. It took a total of nine months to officially regain ownership and cost her $1,000.

“They intentionally try to make this process as difficult and confusing as they can … so that people will eventually give up,” she said.

Bland, 24, was a victim of a contentious practice that allows law enforcement to seize vehicles, cash and other property thought to be connected to a crime, and to profit from it. The plight of innocents whose property is seized has helped fuel a flurry of legal changes throughout the country that seek to limit such police powers.

Since 2014, 19 states and the District of Columbia have altered some aspect of their forfeiture laws. Twelve states now require a criminal conviction to formally confiscate assets in most or all cases, and nine others, including Illinois, are considering adopting such standards.

Illinois’ current forfeiture standard risks providing some law enforcement agencies with an “unfettered piggybank,” said state Sen. Don Harmon, an Oak Park Democrat who is sponsoring the current legislation. In addition to requiring a conviction before property could be permanently confiscated, the bill would reduce the financial incentive by channeling forfeited assets toward funding social services and specific law enforcement programs through grants.