Civil Asset Forfeiture: When Good Intentions Go Awry

Addressing the financial incentives of forfeiture is crucial. The best policy would be to restore legislative control of forfeiture funds. Alternatively, Pennsylvania could consider creating an oversight committee made up of retired judges and prosecutors and other interested and responsible members of the public (in other words, knowledgeable individuals who are not directly affiliated with the law enforcement office seeking the funds) that would be charged with approving the use of forfeiture funds by law enforcement authorities and with monitoring whether those funds were, in fact, used in the approved manner. While this would not eliminate the profit motive of law enforcement agencies, it would at least provide the public with a greater degree of confidence that forfeiture proceeds were being used in an appropriate manner that would best serve the public’s needs.

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