By Amy Fettig, ACLU National Prison Project at 5:52pm
Every year in the United States babies are born to women who are literally in chains – shackled to their delivery beds even in the act of labor. Thankfully, there is hope that this long-hidden and terrible practice – and the legacy of pain, humiliation and harm its causes mothers and children – will soon be eradicated from jails, prisons and detention centers across the country.
By James Esseks, Director, ACLU Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender & AIDS Project at 2:34pm
Last fall, K.L., an Alaskan who transitioned to living as a woman two years ago, got her local Department of Motor Vehicles office to change the gender marker on her driver’s license from M to F. She was thrilled to have her identity documents reflect her true gender. Then she got the letter from the state – prove you’ve had sex reassignment surgery or we’ll take the new license back.
Earlier this week, Illinois Governor Pat Quinn signed into law a bill that prohibits employers from requiring or requesting that employees or applicants reveal the username sand passwords for personal accounts on websites such as Facebook and Twitter. Governor Quinn, in signing the bill, said it was necessary to “protect workers and their right to personal privacy.” Illinois in is now the second state to enact this type legislation, following the lead of Maryland, which enacted a similar law in May.
Can't say we didn't warn them. Back in May, as part of our Don't Filter Me project, the ACLU sent a letter to the Camdenton School District informing them that the web filters they use on school computers were unconstitutionally blocking access to hundreds of LGBT websites, including sites that contain anti-bullying information and other resources for student gay-straight alliances. We informed them that if they failed to disable the filter, they would be "subject to legal liability and the expense of litigation…"
Today, the U.S. has the highest incarceration rate of any country in the world. With over 2.3 million men and women living behind bars, our imprisonment rate is the highest it's ever been in U.S. history. And yet, our criminal justice system has failed on every count: public safety, fairness and cost-effectiveness. Across the country, the criminal justice reform conversation is heating up. Each week, we feature our some of the most exciting and relevant news in overincarceration discourse that we've spotted from the previous week. Check back weekly for our top picks.
This is a good week in Illinois. Yesterday, Gov. Pat Quinn announced that he would close the “supermax” facility at Tamms Correctional Facility, where prisoners are held in long-term solitary confinement.