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House of Representatives
Session of 2019 - 2020 Regular Session


Posted: August 11, 2020 01:55 PM
From: Representative Christopher M. Rabb
To: All House members
Subject: Directing proceeds from civil asset forfeiture to the First Chance Trust Fund
In the last decade, Pennsylvania law enforcement has taken over $100 million in private property using the civil asset forfeiture law. 
According to the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), this law was originally targeted at drug kingpins and the money they made from their crimes. Unfortunately, civil asset forfeiture is increasingly used to take homes, cars, and small amounts of cash from ordinary Pennsylvanians. 
Under our current civil asset forfeiture laws, law enforcement can legally take property it claims is connected to illegal activity but without actually charging, much less convicting, the property owner of a crime. 
Many property owners are never even notified that their property is the subject of a civil forfeiture proceeding. Further, prosecutors and law enforcement agencies can pad their budgets by legally commandeering the personal property of often poor families which is alleged to be connected to illegal activity. 
This is why I am introducing legislation that would provide for cash or proceeds of seized property to be placed in the First Chance Trust Fund, a public charitable trust to help children of incarcerated loved ones and reverse the direction of prison-bound youth in Pennsylvania.
Presently, Pennsylvania provides very few protections for people whose property the government is trying to seize, and this process disproportionately affects low-income people of color. 
This bill will end the era of back-door financing of law enforcement agencies by redirecting the proceeds of civil asset forfeiture to purposes more directly influencing community safety and upward social mobility among those young people most likely to be ensnared by the carceral state.
Please join me in co-sponsoring this legislation as an attempt to provide justice and compensation to those who have been wrongly convicted.

Introduced as HB2864