Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Pennsylvania bill seeks to end civil asset forfeiture

A proposal to end civil asset forfeiture in Pennsylvania has bipartisan backing among state lawmakers, reported WESA-FM.
House and Senate plans would halt a practice that allows law enforcement to seize property from someone accused, but not convicted, of certain crimes.
The legislation would require law enforcement to first get a conviction before seizing any property. Under the House and Senate bills, any money generated from the seizure or sale of those items could not go straight into the coffers of the law enforcement unit.
The effort faces fierce opposition from prosecutors, some of whom use civil forfeiture to help fund their investigations. The Pennsylvania District Attorneys Association calls the policy is an important public safety tool and a way to take the profit out of drug crimes.
At a press conference Tuesday, several supporters hastened to add that they are not “anti-police.”
“We support law enforcement, we support our district attorneys,” said Rep. Tim Krieger (R-Westmoreland). “But no one should have their property taken from them without being charged.”
“We support the D.A.s," added Sen. Tony Williams (D-Philadelphia, "but we don’t support robbery represented in government, wrapped in the flag."
The city of Philadelphia, along with its police department and district attorney’s office, is facing a class-action lawsuit from property owners over its use of civil asset forfeiture.
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