ACLU-PA Position: Opposes
People living in policed public housing communities are disproportionately surveilled and criminalized, largely due to weaker Fourth Amendment protections for public housing residents. The Fourth Amendment offers few safeguards if you are a public housing resident. Protections that typically attach to the home are generally limited in the context of apartment buildings. And courts have typically held that there is no reasonable expectation of privacy in the common spaces of apartment complexes. For public housing occupants in particular, these protections are further limited based on the constitutionally permissible targeting of public housing residents under Fourth Amendment doctrine.
The over-policing of public housing residents exploits existing legal doctrine that grants residents fewer privacy protections in their homes, leaves them vulnerable to capricious police searches, and establishes lower thresholds for arrests, all of which perpetuate the criminalization of communities of color. Such policies are ineffective as a crime reduction mechanism—they have only a modest effect on property crime and no significant impact on violent crime, yet they contribute to increased incarceration rates of low-income communities of color.
HB 1726 would exploit and exacerbate these weaker Fourth Amendment protections for public housing residents, giving police more expansive authority to stop, arrest, search and seize the people who live there.
Check the bill's status here.