March 17, 2016

Markela Sourovelis’s life was forever changed on May 8, 2014. That is when the Philadelphia police showed up unannounced at her home and tried to seize the home through civil forfeiture because her son had been caught selling a small amount of drugs outside the home. The police kicked the entire family out for a week, even though neither Markela nor her husband was ever charged with or convicted of any wrongdoing. The family was allowed back in the house, but only after law enforcement had forced Markela and her husband to make a heartbreaking decision: kick out their son and agree to waive their legal rights or remain locked out. For months, the couple lived in a nightmare, constantly fearing they might lose their family home forever. Late that summer, they teamed up with IJ to bring down Philadelphia’s forfeiture machine. After a year of uncertainty, the city agreed to stop seizing people’s homes without warning and forcing people to give up their constitutional rights and kick out family members. Even better—Markela’s son was allowed back home. Markela has vowed to continue fighting until Philadelphia completely abolishes its civil forfeiture program.