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.

North Carolina Man Exonerated After 14 Years on Death Row

By Will Matthews, ACLU of Northern California at 1:51pm
The American Civil Liberties Union's Capital Punishment Project won a huge victory today when a North Carolina court dropped all charges against a man who spent 14 years on death row and freed him from prison. As stunning as it might sound that an innocent man in this country could wrongfully sit on death row for more than a decade, what is even more stunning is the fact that stories like Jones' are almost becoming commonplace. Jones is the fifth innocent death row inmate to be exonerated and freed in just the past 11 months in the United States. And Jones is the third man on North Carolina's death row to be freed since December. While last month's ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court in Baze v. Rees upholding the three drug lethal injection method of capital punishment used in Kentucky and other states was disappointing, Jones' exoneration today illuminates that the ruling doesn't even come close to getting at the heart of all that ails our nation's death penalty system. If our society cannot ensure that the innocent are protected from conviction and wrongful execution, the death penalty is a gamble we can't afford to make, and states should think twice before resuming executions in Baze's wake.

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: Abuse in the Los Angeles County Jails

By Will Matthews, ACLU of Northern California at 10:41am

A new report released today by the ACLU reveals shocking details of a climate of violence inside the nation's largest jail system. 

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.

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…

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…

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.

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.

Act Now! Tell Gov. Strickland to Grant Kevin Keith Clemency

By Will Matthews, ACLU of Northern California at 2:42pm

It is more important than ever that Ohio Gov. Ted Strickland grant clemency to Kevin Keith, a 46-year-old man awaiting execution on Ohio’s death row, after the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 6th Circuit earlier this week denied one of Keith’s…

When the "Worst of the Worst" Describes the Prison, Not the Prisoners

By Will Matthews, ACLU of Northern California at 3:43pm

Less than a decade ago, Unit 32 at the Mississippi State Penitentiary in Parchman, Miss., was one of the very worst prison facilities in the nation. As the Jackson Clarion-Ledger reports:

The supermax unit at the State Penitentiary at Parchman…
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