The seizure of personal property as a crime-fighting tool
August 18, 2014
Guests: Beth Grossman and Lou Rulli
Three Philadelphians sued the City last week after their personal property – houses, cars and cash — was seized by the District Attorney’s Office as part of criminal investigations. In each of these cases, the plaintiffs were innocent of a crime yet their property has not been returned. The practice, known as civil forfeiture, is used nationwide but is considered by critics to be particularly pervasive in Philadelphia. While law enforcement officials rely on it as a valuable tool in the effort to fight crime, particularly drug-related crimes, some civil rights advocates say the practice often violates the right to due process. Joining us to talk about the laws surrounding civil forfeiture and its effectiveness in prosecuting crime are BETH GROSSMAN of the Philadelphia District Attorney’s Office, and University of Pennsylvania professor LOU RULLI.