Getting Back What’s Yours: Not Easy in Civil Forfeiture Cases

Civil asset forfeiture happens when law enforcement seizes property and money suspected of being related to a crime without any criminal conviction.

Originally, it was a way for police to target drug trafficking and money laundering; today, it’s described as “policing for profit.”  The Institute for Justice’s November 2015 report, “Policing for Profit: The Abuse of Civil Asset Forfeiture,” gave Georgia a D- for its laws, pointing out that the state has “poor protections for innocent third-party property owners.”

As a Daily Signal article recounts, law enforcement agencies share the proceeds while owners of the seized property face a complicated retrieval process.

“For citizens whose cash, houses, or motor vehicles are seized by police in Philadelphia, the journey to get their property back begins in Courtroom 478, located halfway down a long hallway.

“Philadelphia took in $64 million in forfeiture proceeds from 2002 to 2012, according to the Institute for Justice. Approximately $25 million of it went to paying law enforcement salaries, including those of lawyers working for the city in Courtroom 478.”

Does that seem fair to you?

Read the Daily Signal article by Melissa Quinn: “A Look Inside the Philadelphia Courtroom Where Property Owners Fight the Government to Get Back Their Cash, Homes, and Cars.”

— Benita Dodd


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