Blog of Rights

Will
Matthews

Will Matthews is the senior communications officer at the ACLU of Northern California, where he leads the strategic communications component of a statewide ACLU campaign to reform California’s criminal justice system. Previously he was the senior media relations associate at the ACLU’s national office in New York, where he primarily worked on the ACLU’s campaign to reduce over-incarceration. A graduate of Chapman University in Orange, Calif, and the recipient of the Master of Divinity degree from Vanderbilt University, Matthews formerly was an award-winning investigative reporter for the Los Angeles Newspaper Group.

New York Times Highlights Urgent Need to Protect Immigration Detainees from Sexual Abuse

New York Times Highlights Urgent Need to Protect Immigration Detainees from Sexual Abuse

By Will Matthews, ACLU of Northern California at 2:57pm

It is critical the Obama administration ensures that the bipartisan Prison Rape Elimination Act (PREA) applies to immigration detention facilities.

ACLU Lens: North Carolina Repeals Historic Legislation Combating Racism in Death Penalty

By Will Matthews, ACLU of Northern California at 2:45pm

The North Carolina state Senate late Monday voted to repeal an historic 2009 law that would have helped ensure that death sentences handed down in the state were not the result of racial bias.

The Racial Justice Act allows death row prisoners…

Immigration Detention: A Death Sentence for Far Too Many

Immigration Detention: A Death Sentence for Far Too Many

By Will Matthews, ACLU of Northern California at 2:35pm

Being needlessly detained should never turn into a death sentence.

Under ACLU Fire, Baca Running for Cover

Under ACLU Fire, Baca Running for Cover

By Will Matthews, ACLU of Northern California at 6:02pm

L.A. County Sheriff Lee Baca has put together a task force to investigate allegations of abuse inside his jails. But an internal investigation is not enough.

Improvements to Sheriff Joe's Maricopa County Jail Long Overdue

By Will Matthews, ACLU of Northern California at 12:40pm

Sheriff Joe is still on the clock

In October 2008, a federal judge in Arizona ordered Maricopa County's infamous Sheriff Joe Arpaio to make dramatic improvements to the conditions inside the Maricopa County Jail — one of the country's…

Death Penalty in the U.S.: Desmond Tutu Asks "Why?"

By Will Matthews, ACLU of Northern California at 1:01pm

(Originally posted on Daily Kos.)

The venerable Desmond Tutu, the Anglican Archbishop of Cape Town and winner of the 1984 Nobel Peace Prize, can still remember a day from his childhood growing up in the abject poverty of a South African township when he happened to stumble upon a tattered old copy of Ebony magazine.

Inside that particular issue were stories and images of a man named Jackie Robinson, and of a baseball team called the Brooklyn Dodgers, stories and images that Tutu says were captivating for a young man who wasn't normally allowed to dream very far beyond the seemingly hopeless segregation that defined the world in which he lived.

"I didn't know baseball from ping-pong," the man who would grow up to become the primary architect of South Africa's historic Truth and Reconciliation Commission said last week in front of an audience at the Riverside Church in New York City, one of the nation's most prominent Protestant cathedrals. "But that didn't matter. I can't tell you how meaningful it was for me to know that someone who looked like me could overcome such obstacles and play Major League Baseball."

And so began a love affair with the United States, the country that for Tutu and his contemporaries symbolized hope and the promise of equality, and which was equally epitomized by the exploits of the heavyweight prize fighter Joe Louis and the resilient spirit of the civil rights movement.

"All of us kids knew by heart the Gettysburg Address," Tutu said.

From NPP to MSNBC

By Will Matthews, ACLU of Northern California at 2:40pm

It's a long way from Capshaw, Ala., home of the Limestone Prison, to hosting your own national cable television program from a swanky studio in the heart of New York City.

Most everyone by now knows Rachel Maddow as the host of the nightly…

Death by Harsh Sentencing and Deliberate Indifference

By Will Matthews, ACLU of Northern California at 12:32pm

As Washington Post columnist Colbert I. King rightly points out in a 2004 column, Jonathan Magbie's death four years ago was unlike those of so many other young, African-American men in Washington D.C. He wasn't gunned down or stabbed on the streets,…

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…

ACLU in NYT: Commutations are Good, Addressing Systemic Injustice is Better

By Will Matthews, ACLU of Northern California at 1:19pm

Borrowed from the British monarchy and codified in the United States Constitution after lively debate at the Philadelphia Convention, the power of pardon and commutation was bestowed upon American presidents because of the recognition that injustices…

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