Philadelphia agrees to overhaul property seizure law

PHILADELPHIA (AP) — Philadelphia has agreed to overhaul its civil forfeiture laws limiting what law enforcement officers can seize and what proceeds from the confiscated property can fund.

The agreement announced Tuesday is part of a proposed settlement for a federal class action lawsuit against the city, the district attorney’s office and several other city officials.

The lawsuit filed in 2014 claims the city’s civil forfeiture laws violate the due process of those whose property is confiscated. Stories range from the parents of someone arrested for $40 in drugs losing their home, to people never charged with crimes being forced to forfeit cash.

The settlement would end the practice of using the proceeds to fund prosecutor salaries and also create a $3 million fund to reimburse plaintiffs for seized property.

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