NY Police Seize – – and Keep – – $ Millions from Low-Income People

April 14, 2017

DKT Liberty Project Partners with The Bronx Defenders to Stop Abusive and Unconstitutional Practices. 

From L to R: Niji Jain, Johanna Steinberg, Adam Shoop, and Samantha Cohen from The Bronx Defenders meet with AC Bushnell of the DKT Liberty Project

New York police arrest hundreds of thousands of people each year, seizing cash, phones, and other personal property in most of these arrests.  Now, the DKT Liberty Project and the Bronx Defenders are fighting back.  With over 250 advocates and attorneys on hand, The Bronx Defenders provides legal representation to more than 30,000 low-income individuals each year.

Seized cash in amounts as little as $50 can make the difference between a family eating and going hungry.  A seized car can sometimes make getting to work almost impossible.  Every person arrested — even if the arrest leads to complete dismissal — must overcome countless obstacles to retrieve his or her belongings.  In most instances, claimants can’t get their property back.

The DKT Liberty Project is providing financial resource to The Bronx Defenders to help beef-up its impact litigation team and add a new top-flight lawyer, Niji Jain, who will further the organization’s efforts to help people retrieve their property.  The Bronx Defenders has filed a class action lawsuit challenging the NYPD’s practice of retaining people’s property long after a case is over.  In a separate lawsuit, the organization has asked the NY State Supreme Court to compel the NYPD to publicly account for why it keeps so much money from low-level arrests.  With the DKT Liberty Project’s support, The Bronx Defenders is also exploring potential new impact litigation, as well as ramping up challenges to improper property seizure in individual cases.