Philadelphia’s civil forfeiture scam shut down


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Theft by government: The civil forfeiture scam that the city of Philadelphia has been running for years to steal the property of innocent people in order to personally benefit the prosecutors running the program has been shut down by a legal court settlement.

Was it theft? You decide:

Philadelphia routinely threw property owners out of their homes without notice. It forced owners to navigate the notorious “Courtroom 478,” where so-called “hearings” were run entirely by prosecutors, without any judges or court-appointed lawyers to defend property owners. Again and again, prosecutors demanded that property owners appear in court, sometimes ten times or more. Missing even a single “hearing” meant that prosecutors could permanently take an owner’s property, sell it and use the proceeds for any law-enforcement purpose they wished. More than 35 percent of proceeds went to salaries, including the salaries of the very officials seizing and forfeiting property, thus creating a perverse incentive to abuse this system. Today’s landmark settlement brings all of that to an end.

The settlement doesn’t end civil forfeiture, which is itself constitutional illegal, but forces the program to function in a more reasonable manner. Revenues will now go a drug treatment program, judges will run the hearings, and the hearings will be fast and straightforward. In addition, the settlement provides for compensation for those harmed by the past policy.

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10 comments

  • wayne

    Yow— the black hole, known as “drug treatment.” To which, money endlessly flows, but nothing good ever escapes.
    (If you have problems with substances, I’d recommend AA or NA. Skip anything government funded– they WANT you to be a Victim and once you’re sucked in, it’s difficult to extricate yourself.)

    These people all need to go to whatever the crummiest (state) prison in Pennsylvania actually is. Then they can feel what it’s like to be “expropriated.”

  • David M. Cook

    Henry Hyde warned about this back in the 80s, and even wrote a book about it. Unfortunately, neither the left nor the right wants to change this ’cause they all make money and no one cares about the few who “pay the price”.

    This is government corruption on full display!!

  • Chris

    THIS is why we have the individual right to own firearms.
    And in Pennsylvania, Article 1 Section 21 The fight of the people to bear arms in defense of themselves and the state shall not be QUESTIONED.

    Perhaps it should have read: in defense of themselves and FROM the state.

  • Orion314

    Things fall apart, the center does not hold…won’t be long now…

  • Edward

    David M. Cook noted: “This is government corruption on full display!!

    It is amazing how the government is so willing to display such corruption so publicly, and it demonstrates that the (In)Justice department and the Judicial branch are also corrupt. Rather than protecting We the People, as they are supposed to do, they have spent the past few decades protecting the publicly displayed corruption.

    From the article: “With civil forfeiture, the government sues the property itself under the fiction that cash, cars or even homes can be guilty, resulting in bizarre case names like Commonwealth v. 2000 Buick. And because these cases are civil, innocent property owners are denied rights guaranteed to criminal defendants, like the right to an attorney.

    My understanding is that England, centuries ago, created the ability for government to declare an object — such as a knife used in a murder — as evil, thus it became moral to confiscate someone’s property.
    https://core.ac.uk/download/pdf/43166860.pdf

    Civil forfeiture is recognised as a surrender or loss of property or rights without compensation. Hyde, too, defines forfeiture as the loss of a right or property, but adds that it amounts to a penalty for an illegal act. It is suggested that civil forfeiture is a legal action against an “inanimate object” and therefore constitutes a legal fiction. However, this description of a civil forfeiture action is inaccurate because it overemphasised the historical purpose of the action instead of the current purpose that its serves: by depriving a person of his property, the so-called “inanimate object”, the former is punished for his unlawful conduct. It is not the object of the civil forfeiture action that is held liable for the unlawful conduct but the person to whom it belongs. Therefore, the forfeited property is a mere means to an end – punishing a perpetrator for unlawful conduct.

    That last sentence is so important, I repeat it: Therefore, the forfeited property is a mere means to an end — punishing a perpetrator for unlawful conduct.

    It is no wonder that We the People insisted upon a clarification of limits to governmental power by way of the Bill of Rights in the constitution. Even with the Bill of Rights, government has overstepped its authority — constitutional authority — becoming more and more tyrannical with every overstep.

    Civil forfeiture is unconstitutional in several ways, including:
    The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated
    It is unreasonable for a seizure when an alleged crime is not deemed worthy of a court of law.

    no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized

    No person shall be held to answer for a capital, or otherwise infamous crime, unless on a presentment or indictment of a Grand Jury

    nor be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law
    As noted: the forfeited property is a means to an end — punishing an alleged perpetrator for presumed unlawful conduct without due process of law.

    nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation
    The public use being the sale of the property and the proceeds used by government for public use, such as paying employees or funding “drug treatment” programs.

    the accused shall enjoy the right to a speedy and public trial, by an impartial jury of the State and district wherein the crime shall have been committed, which district shall have been previously ascertained by law, and to be informed of the nature and cause of the accusation; to be confronted with the witnesses against him; to have compulsory process for obtaining witnesses in his favor, and to have the Assistance of Counsel for his defence

    In Suits at common law, where the value in controversy shall exceed twenty dollars, the right of trial by jury shall be preserved
    This relates to civil trials, which are not performed under civil forfeiture. If, under civil forfeiture, the government sues the property itself, then where is the trial?

    Excessive bail shall not be required, nor excessive fines imposed, nor cruel and unusual punishments inflicted
    The seizure violates all three.

    It is clear that We the People of the American colonies did not like many of the common law acts that the English king was allowed, as had been executed by his courts. Yet we seem to have had several of these unfair tyrannical acts come back into common usage despite their explicit lawlessness, as defined by the Bill of Rights. For some reason, the courts have sided not with We the People — as our grade school teachers said they did — but with they the tyrannical government.

    But why should we ever have believed that the government courts would be on our side, rather than be tyrannical, when the rest of the government is tyrannical? Why should we ever have believed that the government courts would be on our side, rather than be tyrannical, when the judges are allowed to rule their courtrooms as dictators?

    We the People allowed our judges to think of themselves as dictators but expected them to make rulings that protect our liberty.

    What the hell were We the People thinking?

  • wayne

    Orion314:
    “The best lack all conviction, while the worst are filled with passionate intensity.”
    (Highly recommend as well, “The Gods of the Copybook Headings” by Rudyard Kipling.)

    Edward– Good stuff.

  • Steve Earle

    Wayne, you are absolutely right about so called “drug treatment” especially now with the “opioid crisis” opening the money taps even further….
    I saw so much of it from the Law Enforcement side and you are bang on about the government, they WANT people to see themselves as victims rather than adults responsible for their own behavior.

    There is big money to be made in the victim business as well as political power flowing to those who toe the PC line.

  • wayne

    Steve Earle-
    Good stuff.

    While I do have a huge amount of empathy for people who get seriously wrapped up in substances, and true hard-core addiction is not pretty, here’s how it generally goes: ( a mass generalization to be sure, but this stuff is ungodly expensive at the margin’s and diverts from the truly needy and afflicted.)

    First, we need to sign you up for Medicaid to pay for outrageously priced “treatment,” then we need to sign you up for SNAP & Section-8 so you can eat & live while going straight. (Cuz’ by now, your wife has left you, took the dog & car, you got fired, and bank is taking your house.)
    If your State has ‘disability,’ or ‘supplemental-income,’ we’ll plug you into that as well, pending your full blown SSA disability application which will take 3-4 years to go through. (and for which the Feds will PAY your lawyer $5,000 for the application.)
    But, along the way, we’ll probably addict you to Suboxone and hope you avoid the oxycontin, hydrocodone, & fentanyl, and if you’re ‘ADHD’ we’ll addict you to Adderall and Xanax for your ‘mood disorder.’) (and if you live in a legal-weed State, we WILL ignore the fact you smoke 25% THC content smoke every day, and you’re probably selling your controlled RX “meds” to get cash to pay for weed and alcohol, cuz’ they don’t take credit cards at the Shoppe, and it takes cash to buy alcohol.)
    We’ll even give you a free cell phone, ostensibly so you can find work, but not really…. not anymore.
    -Once we have you firmly locked into the System like a slave, you will be afraid to ever get a PT job, cuz’ you’ll lose all your ‘entitlements.’ (Then we’ll enroll you in any manner of vocational rehab programs.)
    –If you have school age children– we’ll probably ‘discover’ they have ADHD/ADD/conduct disorder, and addict them to Ritalin & Adderall, but you won’t really give them their meds, cuz’ you’ll sell that #30 count bottle every month for $300, for which you don’t even pay the token $1 co-pay anymore.)

    I’m not really as cynical as this all sounds, but I’ve seen million’s of $$ blown on lost causes.

    On a lighter note:

    Jordan B Peterson’s Drinking Song
    https://youtu.be/VJ3v2oGm6Sk
    3:15

  • wayne

    a little preachin’….

    Jordan Peterson –
    “Nihilism, Totalitarianism, and The Divine Individual”
    (excerpt)
    https://youtu.be/MdsVC_qR4t0
    5:33

  • Col Beausabre

    End civil forfeiture by Institute for Justice

    http://endforfeiture.com/#intro

    EVERYONE thinks this is wrong. Amazingly I agree with the ACLU!

    https://www.aclu.org/issues/criminal-law-reform/reforming-police-practices/asset-forfeiture-abuse

    WRITE YOUR CONGRESSIONAL AND STATE REPRESENTATIVES ! MAKE YOUR VOICE HEARD !!

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