Philadelphia Dismantles Civil Asset Forfeiture
Article from Reason by C.J. Ciaramella.
Four years after Philadelphia police seized the home of Markela and Chris Sourovelis for a minor drug crime committed by their son, the city has agreed to almost completely dismantle its controversial civil asset forfeiture program and pay $3 million to its victims.
The Institute for Justice, a libertarian public interest law firm, announced today that the city had agreed to a settlement in a federal civil rights class-action lawsuit challenging its forfeiture program.
“For too long, Philadelphia treated its citizens like ATMs, ensnaring thousands of people in a system designed to strip people of their property and their rights,” Darpana Sheth, a senior attorney at the institute, said in a press release. “No more. Today’s groundbreaking agreement will end years of abuse and create a fund to compensate innocent owners.”
The Institute for Justice filed the suit in 2014 on behalf of the Sourovelises, a couple whose house was seized without warning after their son was caught selling $40 worth of drugs outside. The same day the Sourovelises dropped their son off for court-ordered rehab treatment, they returned to find police had locked them out of their own home, even though there was no evidence they were aware of the drug activity.
Read the entire article at Reason.
Image Credit: By Jamelle Bouie [CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons