Civil asset forfeiture is way for police to confiscate people's property and share the bounty with prosecutors' offices, without the tiresome hassle of due process.
The ACLU reports that Philadelphia law enforcement use civil asset forfeiture to seize assets small (under $100) and large (an entire home, such as the one taken from a woman because cops found drug paraphernalia belonging to her son in her house). When someone gets their assets swiped through civil asset forfeiture, their only recourse is to "wage complicated and time-consuming legal battles in civil court without the help of counsel or other safeguards." And the reason it's hard to get your property back is because the district attorney wants to sell it and keep the money for himself.
About $2.2 million of the seized money goes to the Philadelphia district attorney's office, providing 7.3 percent of its budget. Not coincidentally, the same office supervises the asset forfeiture program.
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