The Lancaster County District Attorney's Office published detailed expenditure records from its drug forfeiture account Tuesday, making it possibly only the second county in the state to do so.
The move is a change of course for the office - which had previously claimed that such a release was illegal -- and fulfills a campaign promise made by District Attorney Heather Adams, who was sworn into office in January.
The office posted online a year and a half of expense records, from 2017 to the end of the 2018 fiscal year. They are a portion of the records provided to LNP | LancasterOnline in a case that settled this past fall.
"It is a step in the right direction," University of Pennsylvania law professor Louis Rulli, an expert on civil asset forfeiture, said of the public release.
Forfeiture is a legal mechanism by which law enforcement can seize the assets of individuals involved in the sale of narcotics. The practice has garnered national attention and criticism in recent years.
Itemized records of what is done with the proceeds from forfeitures, such as the ones released by the district attorney's office on Tuesday, are often not made public. The Centre County District Attorney’s office is one of the few in the state that has provided detailed online access to records.
Although the Lancaster County office previously released records from 2008 to 2018 to LNP| LancasterOnline, a statement from the office said for the time being they would release only the most recent records due to the large volume of records.
All Lancaster County forfeiture expense records from 2008 to 2018 can be viewed here. These records were obtained through the newspaper’s Right to Know Law requests and litigation.