Philadelphia, PA lawmaker looks to overhaul civil forfeiture

A state lawmaker wants to block police from seizing property and cash from suspects until after they’ve been convicted of drug crimes and prevent district attorneys from having sole discretion in how they spend proceeds of asset forfeiture.

Democratic Sen. Anthony Williams of Philadelphia is seeking co-sponsors for a bill that would dramatically overhaul civil asset forfeiture in Pennsylvania at a time when courts have signaled deep skepticism over the controversial practice.

“These two reforms should put an end to abuses of the civil forfeiture statute and instead return the practice to its original intent: seizing the ill-gotten gains of convicted career criminals,” Williams wrote in a memo to fellow legislators.