CrimProf Blog

Editor: Kevin Cole
Univ. of San Diego School of Law

Thursday, November 11, 2021

"Institute For Justice Survey Shows How Philadelphia's Forfeiture Program Preyed On Poor Minorities"

From TechDirt, via NACDL's news-of-interest:

The Institute for Justice managed to kill off most of Philadelphia's severely abused civil forfeiture program in 2018. Litigation resulted in a consent decree that banned law enforcement from seizing cash amounts less than $250 and seizures of less than $1,000 were forbidden unless accompanied by criminal charges or if the seizure was to be used as evidence in a trial.

This consent decree was necessary because the Philly PD had abused the system for years, taking minute amounts of cash off anyone they arrested as part of a catch-and-release program where alleged criminals were free to go but the PD held onto the cash. Officers were also caught buying seized houses at auction, flipping them to turn a profit, and incentivizing even more bogus property seizures.

. . . 

Its report [PDF] on Philly forfeiture surveyed 407 residents, resulting in data that shows the PD targeted minorities frequently and poor minorities most frequently of all.

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