Blog of Rights

Jesselyn
McCurdy
McCurdy is responsible for defending civil liberties in Congress and in the Executive Branch in the areas of criminal justice. McCurdy was a member of the ACLU WLO staff for five years before accepting a position as a Counsel with the House Judiciary Committee’s Subcommittee on Crime, Terrorism, and Homeland Security.  She was the lead House counsel for the historic Fair Sentencing Act of 2010 when it passed Congress.
 
McCurdy is a graduate of Catholic University of America, Columbus School of Law, and received a B.A. in Journalism and Political Science from Rutgers University.
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Bureau of Prisons Has Great New Look for Spring

Bureau of Prisons Has Great New Look for Spring

By Jesselyn McCurdy, ACLU Washington Legislative Office at 11:01am
Despite the never-ending polar vortex, spring is in the air. From cleaning out your fridge to busting out your warm weather wardrobe for the first time in six months, spring is a time for change for the better.
The 1980s Called. They Want Their Mandatory Minimums Back.

The 1980s Called. They Want Their Mandatory Minimums Back.

By Jesselyn McCurdy, ACLU Washington Legislative Office & Sarah Solon, Communications Strategist, ACLU at 2:27pm

Senator Leahy closed this morning’s Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on mandatory minimums by asking everyone in the room with a loved one serving a mandatory minimum to stand up. The whole audience stood.

This was a poignant display of…

Two Steps Forward, One Step Back

Two Steps Forward, One Step Back

By Jesselyn McCurdy, ACLU Washington Legislative Office at 10:04am

Our country's federal prison population has grown by nearly 800% in the last 30 years.

Seriously. That's not a typo. Fueled by the failed "War on Drugs" and extreme, one-size-fits-all sentencing, our federal prison population has ballooned…

Mandatory Sentencing Is Not the Answer

By Jesselyn McCurdy, ACLU Washington Legislative Office at 10:03am

Hamedah Hasan, a 43-year-old mother and grandmother, continues to languish in prison. She is 18 years into a 27-year prison sentence for a first-time nonviolent crack offense. Though the Nebraska judge who heard her case didn't want to give such…

Chance at Freedom: Retroactive Crack Sentence Reductions For Up to 12,000 May Begin Today

Chance at Freedom: Retroactive Crack Sentence Reductions For Up to 12,000 May Begin Today

By Jesselyn McCurdy, ACLU Washington Legislative Office at 2:11pm

Today, Hamedah Hasan can finally apply for her freedom.

Hamedah has been locked up for 18 years serving a prison sentence she never deserved.

When she was 21 years old, she and her two daughters escaped an abusive relationship …

Joining the Movement: Congress Takes Action to Abolish Federal Death Penalty

By Jesselyn McCurdy, ACLU Washington Legislative Office at 3:27pm

It's been more than a week now since the execution of Troy Davis. Protesters may no longer be standing vigil and the story may no longer be making front-page headlines. But one thing is certain: millions of Americans' eyes have been opened to the…

Brady Reform: New Legislation Is a Win for Justice

Brady Reform: New Legislation Is a Win for Justice

By Jesselyn McCurdy, ACLU Washington Legislative Office & Dan Zeidman, ACLU Washington Legislative Office at 3:47pm

In the 1963 Supreme Court case Brady v. Maryland, the U.S. Supreme Court recognized a defendant’s fundamental right to any and all favorable information that might prove he or she was innocent of a crime. From that case came the “Brady…

Washington Gives Us Something to Get Excited About (No, Really!)

Washington Gives Us Something to Get Excited About (No, Really!)

By Jesselyn McCurdy, ACLU Washington Legislative Office at 2:35pm

If you care about criminal justice reform, you're coming off a really good month in Washington. Don't believe me? Here's what you have to get excited about:

The U.S. Sentencing Commission released its preliminary report on the effectiveness…
New Report Shines a Light on Solitary Confinement

New Report Shines a Light on Solitary Confinement

By Jesselyn McCurdy, ACLU Washington Legislative Office at 11:20am

It's estimated that more than 80,000 prisoners are held in solitary confinement or restricted housing across the United States on any given day. According to a new report released last week by the U.S. General Accounting Office, it's about time the…

Sequestration Puts Spotlight on America’s Dangerously Overcrowded Federal Prisons

Sequestration Puts Spotlight on America’s Dangerously Overcrowded Federal Prisons

By Jesselyn McCurdy, ACLU Washington Legislative Office at 4:18pm

Talk about worrying about the symptom instead of the cause: Attorney General Eric Holder recently sent a letter to Sen. Barbara Mikulski (D-MD), Chair of the Senate Appropriations Committee, warning of the devastating effect budget cuts will have on…

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