Philly cops "legally" steal millions from poor people every year

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The great thing is that we have advanced legal processes like this, rather than filthy, primitive, shakedowns for bribes like lesser societies.

This allows our security forces to scrape a similar percentage out of the hides of the worthless poor people; but doesn’t sully our corruption or transparency indices on the world stage. Truly, we are god’s most favored nation.



Confused at lack of lawyers jumping all over this on the basis that it’s unconstitutional to punish people without a trial.


The cool thing about ‘civil forfeiture’ is that you aren’t punishing people. It’s a case between the state and the asset, so you don’t need any of the tedious safeguards that you would if a person were involved. Plus, the names of the trials end up being pretty hilarious.


Confused that DAs can sleep at night 98% of the time. The funny thing is that we can stop this by making it an issue in elections for prosecutors. People blame the cops way too much for things that are really controlled and/or encouraged by prosecutors and DAs. Cops can arrest you, for example, but I haven’t heard of a jurisdiction where it’s not the office of the local prosecutor (or equivalent) that actually charges you. All the mini-courts where people fight for their stuff back without the benefit of a lawyer are run by these offices that are highly responsive to electoral pressure. Problem is: Most people don’t think of that. Yeah, I know your vote for president doesn’t count. Your vote for county prosecutor, though? Might want to give it some thought.


This. However, the only significant force out there right now influencing District Attorney races is RAGA, an ultra-rightwing money bundler that is heavily funded by a few large corporate concerns. The candidates they promote deeply don’t give a damn about this issue.

If money = speech now, then perhaps property has become the mouth of your opinions and we can argue in court that property has become an extension of the person.


Can’t you vote for leaders who will abolish the practice?

I’d be delighted to; but the options are, unfortunately, limited. ‘Civil forfeiture’ is one of the pillars of the Holy War on Drugs and a fairly substantial source of police funding(both boring-general-fund stuff and not all that infrequently as a slush fund to spend on tacticool toys that would be hard to justify otherwise).

So, unless a given politician wishes to be labelled as pro-drugs, soft on crime, uninterested in protecting the children, etc. and pretty much abandon any and all hope of not being attacked by(much less being endorsed by) any of the groups representing police, sheriffs, DAs, and similar; about the closest they can get is some sort of toothless ‘reform’(which AG Holder actually did do fairly recently, limiting the circumstances under which state and local law enforcement could invoke federal asset forfeiture rules, something that had become popular because the federal rules are frequently more convenient that the state and local ones, though most if not all states have some version of them as well).

There’s also the problem that, for the most part, the more abusive employment of civil forfeiture capabilities is largely reserved for the poor, powerless, and comparatively unsympathetic. This both reduces the importance of the issue to people with some degree of power and influence, and ensures that, even where some pitiful scraps of ‘due process’ or ‘safeguards’ exist, they are in practice largely irrelevant. When dealing with targets who have actual toothy lawyers, law enforcement either doesn’t push their luck, or invokes forfeiture along with a bunch of criminal charges that they think they can prove; allowing them to show it being used ‘as intended’.


I wonder how much of that ends up in the Philadelphia Police and Fire Federal Credit Union?

Did some research on credit unions back in 2011. As I recall, that one in particular does very well. Membership is of course limited.

No surprise really, You’ve got to rob a whole MESS o’ poor people to make much bank…

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