ACLU of PA Welcomes Nationwide Effort to “Fix Forfeiture”

June 23, 2015 1:00 pm

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HARRISBURG, PA – A group of national organizations announced their new nationwide effort to “fix forfeiture” in Harrisburg today, a move welcomed by the American Civil Liberties Union of Pennsylvania.

The mission of the new coalition of ideologically diverse partners is to reform state and federal laws on civil asset forfeiture, a legal process that allows law enforcement to take and keep property it claims is connected to crime, without ever convicting or even charging the property owner with a crime.

“Forfeiture is broken in Pennsylvania,” said Reggie Shuford, executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Pennsylvania. “It’s so broken that it is now getting national attention. We welcome our national partners to this effort.”

The new coalition Fix Forfeiture includes Americans for Tax Reform, Right on Crime, the Center for American Progress, FreedomWorks, the national ACLU, Faith and Freedom Coalition, and the Leadership Conference.

Senate Bill 869, introduced by Senator Mike Folmer (R-Lebanon) and Senator Anthony Williams (D-Philadelphia), would reform Pennsylvania law on forfeiture to require authorities to convict the property owner of a crime before seized property could be forfeited to the government. A companion bill has been introduced in the state House by Representative Jim Cox (R-Berks) as House Bill 508.

“This is an issue of fundamental fairness,” said Andy Hoover, legislative director of the ACLU of Pennsylvania. “This legislation would maintain forfeiture as a tool for law enforcement while providing greater protection from overreaching government for the people of Pennsylvania.”

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