Blog of Rights

Rebecca
McCray

Rebecca McCray works as a paralegal with the Criminal Law Reform Project of the ACLU, which seeks an end to excessively harsh crime policies that result in mass incarceration. The Project works to reduce the number of people entering jails and prisons by reforming our nation's punitive drug policies and challenging police and prosecutorial misconduct and other governmental abuses of power. Rebecca has worked as an educator and researcher at the Iowa Correctional Institute for Women, the Iowa Juvenile Home, and Rikers Island, facilitating classes in writing, visual art, and debate. In addition, Rebecca leads free writing workshops throughout New York City with the New York Writers Coalition and regularly contributes to the organization’s blog, The Narrator. An Iowa native, she lives and writes in Brooklyn. She is a graduate of the University of Iowa. You can follow her on Twitter here: @rebeccakmccray

After the Pussy Riot: What This Unjust Sentence Can Teach Americans

After the Pussy Riot: What This Unjust Sentence Can Teach Americans

By Rebecca McCray, ACLU Criminal Law Reform Project at 2:12pm
In the last few months, concerned American celebrities, musicians and activists have joined protesters abroad to demonstrate their support for a Russian feminist collective, Pussy Riot. Following a peaceful performance in Moscow’s Christ the Savior Cathedral, in which the group publicly criticized President Vladimir Putin, the three women were arrested, jailed, prosecuted and ultimately sentenced to two years in jail for “hooliganism driven by religious hatred.” Celebrities and musicians, including Madonna, Sting, Paul McCartney, Chloe Sevigny, Moby and Bjork, have all enthusiastically declared their opposition to the prosecution, conviction and sentencing of Pussy Riot. Across social media outlets, Americans are imploring their readers and friends: Free Pussy Riot! With this moment comes an opportunity to dissect what exactly it is that has animated so many Americans and dominated a significant strand of the Western media’s attention.
Check Your Constitutional Rights at the Classroom Door? Not on Our Watch.

Check Your Constitutional Rights at the Classroom Door? Not on Our Watch.

By Rebecca McCray, ACLU Criminal Law Reform Project at 2:40pm

A judge has ruled that Linn State Technical College's mandatory drug-testing policy is patently unconstitutional, and has blocked any further drug testing.

The Incomplete Story Told by California’s Declining Juvenile Arrest Rates

The Incomplete Story Told by California’s Declining Juvenile Arrest Rates

By Will Matthews, ACLU of Northern California & Rebecca McCray, ACLU Criminal Law Reform Project at 2:20pm

A recent study from the Center on Juvenile and Criminal Justice (CJCJ) demonstrates that decriminalization of marijuana can actually improve our children’s futures while saving taxpayers billions of dollars.

In 2011, Senate Bill 1449…

Medical Marijuana:  The Tipping Point

Medical Marijuana: The Tipping Point

By Rebecca McCray, ACLU Criminal Law Reform Project & Emma Andersson, Criminal Law Reform Project at 3:21pm

Two recent elections, a New York judge’s personal plea, a new state law and a new public opinion poll demonstrate that a seismic national shift has occurred in political attitudes toward medical marijuana. This cascade of developments dramatically…

Without a Card to Play, Texas Grandma Sentenced to Life Without Parole for First-Time Drug Offense

Without a Card to Play, Texas Grandma Sentenced to Life Without Parole for First-Time Drug Offense

By Rebecca McCray, ACLU Criminal Law Reform Project at 10:04am

Texans can sleep more soundly at night knowing that Elisa Castillo, a grandmother and nonviolent first-time drug offender, is serving a life without parole sentence in Fort Worth. Yes, you read that right — the latest casualty of our War on…

Lying to Eat

Lying to Eat

By Rebecca McCray, ACLU Criminal Law Reform Project at 12:36pm

A Mississippi mother of two was sentenced to three years in prison for lying about a past drug conviction when applying for food stamps.

States' Brilliant Budget Solution: Sacrifice Public Education to Spend More on Ineffective Prisons

By Inimai Chettiar, ACLU & Rebecca McCray, ACLU Criminal Law Reform Project at 5:32pm

California's governor wants to eliminate the entire $30 million the state spends on public libraries, while spending more than $50 million to imprison two dozen bedridden inmates who pose no threat to public safety.

Unfortunately, these types…

Gil Kerlikowske: Please Put Our Money Where Your Mouth Is

Gil Kerlikowske: Please Put Our Money Where Your Mouth Is

By Rebecca McCray, ACLU Criminal Law Reform Project & Emma Andersson, Criminal Law Reform Project at 4:02pm

U.S. Drug Czar Gil Kerlikowske has his work cut out for him.  A revealing recent interview suggests he favors a more treatment-based approach to drug policy than his predecessors, but he has no illusions about the daunting task of de-stigmatizing…

Choosing Death Over Life: (Still) Starving to Stop Solitary

Choosing Death Over Life: (Still) Starving to Stop Solitary

By Rebecca McCray, ACLU Criminal Law Reform Project & Tanya Greene, Advocacy and Policy Counsel, ACLU at 10:33am

UPDATE: Although it appears that the hunger strike is over, the problems with solitary confinement remain. Not only are these conditions inhumane and harmful, but they also jeopardize public safety.

Tribeca Film Festival Highlights International Overincarceration

By Inimai Chettiar, ACLU & Rebecca McCray, ACLU Criminal Law Reform Project at 4:30pm

The 2011 Tribeca Film Festival came to a close last month, with the festival's coveted Heineken Audience Award going to Give Up Tomorrow — a disturbing documentary detailing a story of an injustice perpetrated against a family in the Philippines.

Spanning…

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