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Politics & Government

Asset Forfeiture Powers Expanded in Human Trafficking Bill

Proposed legislation to tighten Pennsylvania’s law against human trafficking would also expand law enforcement’s ability to seize the assets of people accused of the crime.

Greg Rowe is with the Pennsylvania District Attorneys Association, which helped write the measure that passed the state Senate and is before the House.

He said it adds “trafficking of persons” to the list of activities that can subject someone’s property to seizure.  

"It’s hard to speculate as to how much, if any, law enforcement agencies will bring in," Rowe said. "That said, I don’t think anyone in law enforcement that’s worked on this bill is assuming that any significant amount of money will necessarily come in as a result of the bill. It may, it may not."

Civil asset forfeiture can be a boon to law enforcement agency budgets.

It allows the seizure of property used to commit a crime, like a car, without requiring the person in question be found guilty of the alleged crime.

Property can be auctioned off later, with proceeds staying with the law enforcement agency.

The Polaris Project, a national organization advocating for tougher laws against human slavery, says 37 states have included asset forfeiture language in their human trafficking laws.