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.

ACLU and ADF: Protecting Prisoners' Rights Together

By Will Matthews, ACLU of Northern California at 4:28pm

As the New York Times reported this week, the ACLU and the Alliance Defense Fund (ADF) — a conservative Christian organization that is currently promoting a publication entitled The ACLU vs. America — are typically on opposite sides of contentious issues like religious expression in schools and same-sex marriage.

But there is at least one thing that we can agree upon: the right of federal prisoners to have access to religious material while in prison.

David Shapiro of the ACLU's National Prison Project and the ACLU's Washington Legislative Office on Tuesday filed formal comments opposing a proposed rule by the Bureau of Prisons (BOP) that would illegally empower prison officials to ban vital religious works from prison chapel libraries. The proposed rule, which would allow material to be banned based on a determination that it "could…suggest" violence or criminal behavior, directly contradicts the Second Chance Act, a law passed last year which places strict limits on what material BOP officials may outlaw.

The comments were signed by a group of religious organizations that included the American Jewish Congress, Muslim Advocates and the Baptist Joint Committee for Religious Liberty. And in a one-page letter submitted to the BOP Tuesday, ADF said, "ADF concurs with the vast majority of comments submitted by the American Civil Liberties Union today — a somewhat remarkable statement given that we often do not agree with the ACLU."

See that — even supposed enemies can find ways to be friends.

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,…

Bad Hair Day?

By Will Matthews, ACLU of Northern California at 4:21pm

"A.A." is a 5-year-old kindergartner in Needville, Texas. Last Friday, a Texas judge ordered A.A. back to school after weeks of being denied that opportunity.

The trouble all started on his first day of school last month, when…

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…

ACLU Lens: Oregon Death Penalty Moratorium Latest Step Toward Abolition

ACLU Lens: Oregon Death Penalty Moratorium Latest Step Toward Abolition

By Will Matthews, ACLU of Northern California at 11:29am

Expressing regret that he allowed two executions to go forward 10 years ago, Oregon Gov. John Kitzhaber yesterday put a moratorium on the state's death penalty.

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.

ACLU Lens: Georgia Board of Pardons and Parole Denies Clemency to Troy Davis Despite Serious Doubts About his Guilt

ACLU Lens: Georgia Board of Pardons and Parole Denies Clemency to Troy Davis Despite Serious Doubts About his Guilt

By Will Matthews, ACLU of Northern California at 11:53am

The board denied clemency despite serious concerns that he was wrongfully convicted in 1989 for killing a police officer.

Speak Out Against the "Pain Ray" at L.A. County Jail

By Will Matthews, ACLU of Northern California at 5:03pm

The ACLU took to the airwaves this week to advance its advocacy against the implementation of Assault Intervention Devices — invisible microwave beam weapons originally developed by the military — as a way of subduing inmates at the…

Death by Firing Squad Highlights Inhumanity of Death Penalty

By Will Matthews, ACLU of Northern California at 4:46pm

When Ronnie Lee Gardner is strapped into a chair early on Friday morning, and a hood is placed over his head and a small white target is pinned over his heart, the citizens of Utah — and indeed the entire country — will be reminded in…

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