Blog of Rights


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.

Health Commission Gets Tough on "America's Toughest Sheriff"

By Will Matthews, ACLU of Northern California at 2:35pm
Big news reverberated out of Maricopa County, Ariz., yesterday when it was made public that the National Commission on Correctional Health Care (NCCHC) last week stripped all of Maricopa County's Sheriff's Office jails — run by the infamous Sheriff Joe Arpaio — of their accreditation. Not only did the NCCHC say (PDF) it was terminating its accreditation because of the county's failure to maintain levels of medical and mental health care that meet national standards, but it also accused county officials of providing false information about their compliance. In other words, they lied in an effort to cover up grossly inadequate conditions. That shouldn't come as much of a surprise though: as this is pretty par for the course for Arpaio, who refers to himself as "America's toughest sheriff," has bragged recently about spending only 30 cents a day on meals served to the pre-trial detainees housed at the Maricopa County Jail and is famous for forcing them to eat outdated and oxidized green bologna.

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…

Married in Bucks County: Are you Really?

By Will Matthews, ACLU of Northern California at 8:38pm

Jason and Jennifer O’Neill were married in Bucks County, Penn. in 2005, and for over two years they experienced all of the typical joys and challenges that invariably come during a young couple’s first years of matrimony. But then, without…

Love Is Apparently Not All You Need

By Will Matthews, ACLU of Northern California at 5:08pm

Peter Goldberger and Anna Durbin have been married for 30 years and have raised three children. But on this Valentine's Day, when the Ardmore, Pa. couple's only concern should be celebrating three decades of unyielding devotion to each other, Peter…

Warehousing the Mentally Ill

By Will Matthews, ACLU of Northern California at 4:54pm

Ensuring proper care for incarcerated people with mental illness has increasingly become a hot button issue across the country. From Maine to Nevada and in between, state legislatures and department of corrections officials have been forced in recent…

Wilson County Schools Are Well Worth a Mass

By Will Matthews, ACLU of Northern California at 4:02pm

In an op-ed published in The New York Times last week, Roger Cohen relates the insight of a former French king who, surveying the destruction that rained down upon 16th-century Europe as a result of pre-Enlightenment religious fervor, said, "Paris…

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