Blog of Rights


Rachel Myers is a senior communications strategist at the ACLU focusing on criminal justice issues. She worked previously at the ACLU of Maine and the Portland (ME) Education Partnership, where she trained teachers, students and community organizations to use service learning in the public schools. She is a graduate of the University of Texas at Austin.

Medical Marijuana: A Cure, Not a Crime

Medical Marijuana: A Cure, Not a Crime

By Rachel Myers, ACLU at 10:40am
Joseph Casias has battled sinus cancer and an inoperable brain tumor for more than a decade. His condition has required extensive treatment and chemotherapy, interferes with his ability to speak, and is a source of severe and daily pain. The pain relief medicine prescribed by Joseph's oncologist helped a little, but he continued to experience constant pain as well as nausea, a side effect of the medication.

Protection Gone Terribly Wrong: Baseless Child-Pornography Charges Against Teenage Girls In Pennsylvania

By Rachel Myers, ACLU at 11:20am

(Originally posted on Feministing.)

On Wednesday, the ACLU of Pennsylvania filed a lawsuit against Wyoming County (PA) district attorney George Skumanick, Jr., for threatening three high school girls with child pornography charges over digital photos of themselves in which they appear topless or in their underwear. Skumanick asserted that the girls were accomplices to the production of child pornography because they allowed themselves to be photographed. The threatened charges of sexual abuse of a minor could come with jail time and registration as sex offenders

Which seems even more extreme when you consider that Skumanick has not threatened to charge the individuals who distributed the photos in the first place. It also seems a little counter-intuitive, since child pornography laws are meant to protect children from being exploited, where as charging them with a felony and potentially subjecting them to being on a sex offender registry hardly seems protective.

Neither of the two photos in question depicts sexual activity or reveals anything below the waist.

One is a picture taken two years ago at a slumber party showing Marissa Miller (now 15) and her friend Grace Kelly from the waist up, both wearing white bras. The other depicts Nancy Doe (a pseudonym used to protect the girl’s real identity) standing outside a shower with a bath towel wrapped around her body beneath her breasts.

Cold War-Era Policy Still Giving Free Speech the Chills

By Rachel Myers, ACLU at 3:01pm

What do Colombian novelist Gabriel García Márquez, Chilean poet Pablo Neruda and British novelist Doris Lessing have in common (besides being Nobel Prize-winning writers who have all given us so many literary treasures)? During the…

The Unfriendly Skies: JetBlue/TSA Officials Pay $240,000 for Grounding Arabic T-Shirt

By Rachel Myers, ACLU at 4:34pm

When it rains, it pours… stories about discrimination at the airport. As AirTran Airways scrambled to make good after excluding a Muslim family from one of their flights last week, a discrimination case from 2006 was settled when two Transportation…

Podcast: Billy McCarthy of We Are Augustines talks about Solitary Confinement and Mental Illness

Podcast: Billy McCarthy of We Are Augustines talks about Solitary Confinement and Mental Illness

By Rachel Myers, ACLU at 9:51am

Many of singer / songwriter Billy McCarthy's songs were inspired by his brother James, who suffered from mental illness and took his own life after spending five years in solitary confinement in a California prison.

ACLU Lens: Supreme Court Orders California to Reduce its Prison Population to Alleviate Overcrowding

By Rachel Myers, ACLU at 1:47pm

The U.S. Supreme Court today ordered the state of California to reduce its prison population in order to alleviate extreme overcrowding that endangers the health and safety of the state’s prisoners and prison staff. The decision in Brown v.…

Marijuana on the Ballot

Marijuana on the Ballot

By Rachel Myers, ACLU at 7:29pm

Last night brought exciting signs that America is finally ready to choose sensible policies over draconian ones that deny sick people access to the medicine they need, and others that clog our criminal justice system with nonviolent marijuana users.…

Spared From a Death Sentence Based On Falsehoods

Spared From a Death Sentence Based On Falsehoods

By Rachel Myers, ACLU at 5:52pm

An almost-certainly innocent man was spared from death at the hands of the state of Texas yesterday when the highest criminal court in Texas threw out the death sentence of ACLU client Manuel Velez, ruling it was based on the false testimony of a state…

Fix Stop-And-Frisk

Fix Stop-And-Frisk

By Rachel Myers, ACLU at 3:40pm
The pressure on the New York Police Department to reform its stop-and-frisk program is mounting, led by the New York Civil Liberties Union and other advocates and now the New York Times.   After the NYCLU released a report earlier this month providing…
ACLU Lens: Connecticut Poised to Become 17th State to Repeal Death Penalty

ACLU Lens: Connecticut Poised to Become 17th State to Repeal Death Penalty

By Rachel Myers, ACLU at 4:58pm

The passage late Wednesday by the Connecticut House of a bill to repeal the death penalty is the latest sign of growing momentum in favor of ending the use of executions nationwide.

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