Blog of Rights

Rachel
Myers

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.

ACLU Releases Report On Supreme Court Nominee Sonia Sotomayor

By Rachel Myers, ACLU at 3:26pm

The ACLU today released a report summarizing the civil liberties and civil rights record of Judge Sonia Sotomayor, who was nominated by President Obama to replace retiring Justice David Souter as an Associate Justice of the United States Supreme Court.…

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.

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.…

Senators To Hear Dangers of Long-Term Solitary Confinement

Senators To Hear Dangers of Long-Term Solitary Confinement

By Rachel Myers, ACLU at 10:53am

The first-ever (and long-overdue) congressional hearing on solitary confinement convenes tomorrow, June 19, at 10 a.m. before the Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on the Constitution, Civil Rights and Human Rights. You’ll be able to watch a webcast…

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 Calls for Tamms Closure

ACLU Calls for Tamms Closure

By Rachel Myers, ACLU at 1:29pm

In a new podcast, former Tamms prisoner Brian Nelson talks about the 23 years he spent in solitary confinement.

Editorial: We Need Reforms to Increase Confidence in the Justice System

Editorial: We Need Reforms to Increase Confidence in the Justice System

By Rachel Myers, ACLU at 5:40pm

An excellent op-ed in the Times-Picayune (New Orleans) today begins, "Our justice system makes two promises to its citizens: a fundamentally fair trial and an accurate result. As Justice Cochran of Texas' highest criminal court observed, 'If…

Legislators Join the Call to Reform Solitary in Virginia

By Rachel Myers, ACLU at 1:23pm

The overuse of solitary confinement concerns some members of the Virginia legislature. According to Senator Adam Ebbin and Delegates Charniele Herring and Patrick Hope, there are simply too many prisoners in solitary for too long.

The three…

Arizona Governor Will Implement Medical Marijuana Law

Arizona Governor Will Implement Medical Marijuana Law

By Rachel Myers, ACLU at 5:02pm

Gov. Brewer had previously challenged the law in court, arguing that state officials fear federal prosecution for implementing the law. Her case was dismissed earlier this week.

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