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Resource ID: #25995
Subject: Money
Source: Philadelphia City Paper
Affiliation: 
Date: November 29, 2012

$0.00

Description

Topic: An investigation into how civil asset forfeiture in Philadelphia results in the systematic seizure of cash from individuals not convicted of a crime. "Civil asset forfeiture," is a legal construct that allows government entities to pursue money allegedly tied to crime via a civil, versus criminal, process. Originally intended as a tool to thwart large and complex organized criminal enterprises, the use of civil forfeiture in relatively small-time cases has ballooned in recent decades, especially on the local level to the point where many law enforcement agencies rely on (increasingly petty) forfeiture actions to fund their own operations. While there has been increasing attention paid to forfeiture on the federal level, there exists little published data and reporting on local-level forfeiture operations around the country. This was certainly true in Philadelphia, where my investigation into the Philadelphia District Attorney's Office revealed almost entirely unreported, massive, and profoundly indifferent civil forfeiture apparatus, in which cases are churned out by the thousands in an assembly line-like process, an individual's guilt or innocence is largely irrelevant, and which has been crafted to allow the D.A.'s Office to raise millions annually in revenue from thousands of cases whose merits will almost never be "proven" or even argued before a before a judge or jury.

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