Guilty Property: How Law Enforcement Takes $1 Million in Cash from Innocent Philadelphians Every Year — and Gets Away with It
On June 2, 2015, the ACLU-PA released a new report documenting the impact of Pennsylvania’s unfair civil asset forfeiture laws and the aggressive enforcement of these laws by the Philadelphia District Attorney’s Office.
The report, entitled Guilty Property: How Law Enforcement Takes $1 Million in Cash from Innocent Philadelphians Every Year — and Gets Away with It, examines forfeitures of cash in Philadelphia from 2011 to 2013. The report reveals that most cash forfeitures in Philadelphia involve less than $200, and only 3% of property owners actually challenge the forfeiture when such small sums are at stake. But the sums add up: the Philadelphia DA’s office forfeits over $1 million in cash each year from more than 1,500 people who were not convicted of any crime, and disproportionately targets African Americans in low-income neighborhoods.