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.

Editorial: Drug-Testing Welfare Applicants Nets Little

Editorial: Drug-Testing Welfare Applicants Nets Little

By Rachel Myers, ACLU at 4:00pm
An editorial in yesterday's USA Today takes a hard look at the recent push to drug-test applicants for public assistance across the country. The verdict? "Until states can come up with a smarter way to ferret out the abusers while protecting children, the testing craze will be just another program that appeals to stereotypes in hard economic times while producing little value in the real world."
Extreme Sentencing

Extreme Sentencing

By Rachel Myers, ACLU at 6:12pm

Snatching a purse off the arm of an elderly woman is one of the nastier offenses I can think of – the kind of thing that might make you shake your head and say to yourself “I hope whoever did that gets what’s coming to him.”…

Overincarceration in America

Overincarceration in America

By Rachel Myers, ACLU at 11:35am

We believe that America’s criminal justice system should keep communities safe, treat people fairly, and use fiscal resources wisely. But more Americans are deprived of their liberty than ever before - unfairly and unnecessarily, with no benefit…

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…

Stop Incarceration for Profit in Your State

Stop Incarceration for Profit in Your State

By Rachel Myers, ACLU at 3:28pm

A private prison company, Corrections Corporation of America, wants to buy your state's prisons and keep them full. Help us stop them.

The Problem With Private Prisons

By Rachel Myers, ACLU at 3:06pm

Check out this great opinion piece at by David Shapiro of the ACLU National Prison Project about the problems with the for-profit, private prison industry.

Says David:

Now is the time for serious criminal justice reform, not…
The High Price of Habitual Offender Laws

The High Price of Habitual Offender Laws

By Rachel Myers, ACLU at 4:07pm

Has North Carolina taken one step forward but another one back in trying to solve the state's prison population issues? The recently passed Justice Reinvestment Act looks to make some positive strides in the area of criminal justice reform, particularly…

Louisiana Passes Legislation Addressing Growing Number of Elderly in Prison

By Rachel Myers, ACLU at 5:27pm

The Louisiana Senate has just passed H.B. 138, which will enable some prisoners to go before a parole board upon turning 60. The board can then decide to grant parole to those individuals it determines would pose no danger to the community upon…

Sentencing Children to Die in Prison

By Rachel Myers, ACLU at 1:23pm

One year ago this week, the U. S. Supreme Court ruled that sentencing youth who have committed non-homicide offenses to life in prison without some meaningful opportunity for review of that sentence is unconstitutional. Although the ruling does not…

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.

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