Lunch Break Read: Civil Asset Forfeiture Abuses in PA


During your lunch break today, be sure to check out this post on a new report exposing civil asset forfeiture abuses in Pennsylvania by FreedomWorks’ Jason Pye.

Here is a quick preview:

Pennsylvania’s long-awaited, all-encompassing civil asset forfeiture reform bill was introduced in the Senate in bipartisan fashion. Just before the bill was introduced, the Commonwealth’s chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union released a shocking study detailing the abuse of civil asset forfeiture by overzealous law enforcement and prosecutors in Philadelphia.

The report not only sheds light on how the egregious tool is used against innocent property owners, but also the complexity of forfeiture proceedings. This complexity deters people, not even charged with a crime, from fighting to get wrongfully seized items back.

In the report, Guilty Property: How Law Enforcement Takes $1 Million in Cash from Innocent Philadelphians Every Year — and Gets Away with It, the ACLU of Pennsylvania found that some 6,000 forfeiture cases are filed each year in the City of Brotherly Love. “This enforcement activity,” the report explains, “results in the forfeiture of some 100 homes, 150 vehicles, and roughly $4 million in cash each year, for a total of around $5 million in annual income.”

The legal requirement to challenge a forfeiture proceeding is set up to overwhelmingly benefit the local government. Under Pennsylvania law, seized property is considered guilty until proven innocent by the owner, who does not even need to be charged with a crime. In addition, prosecutors and law enforcement are allowed to keep proceeds from forfeitures, creating a perverse profit motive.

Read the full post at