Blog of Rights

This Week in Civil Liberties (2/14/2014)

By Rekha Arulanantham, ACLU at 5:33pm

At what age was James Burns when he first held in solitary confinement?

How many states have Good Samaritan" laws, which allow people who call 911 to report an overdose to be immune from criminal prosecution for certain crimes associated with drug possession?

How old was Larry King, a gender non-conforming person of color, when he was shot and killed by a classmate?

Rules proposed late last year by what government agency could infringe on the right to political speech of legitimate issue advocacy from nonprofits on the right and left, particularly smaller ones?

Was Snowden justified?

I Was Six-Years-Old and Locked in Solitary
Solitary was the worst thing that's ever happened to James Burns. He was in and out of jail while growing up. Every time he was in solitary confinement, it felt as horrible as the first time he was locked up and left alone.

Criminalizing Drug Users Is Killing People
21-year-old Alysa Ivy was surrounded by people when she died of a heroin overdose. Not one of them called 911 for help. Instead, they left her alone in a motel room, afraid they’d be arrested if they called the authorities.

Alysa’s death was entirely preventable. In the 14 states with "Good Samaritan" laws, people who call 911 to report an overdose are immune from criminal prosecution for certain crimes associated with drug possession. Wisconsin is not one of those states, and so nobody made the phone call that could have saved Alysa’s life.

Remembering Larry King
This week, the ACLU remembers Larry King who was killed six years ago. On February 12, 2008, in Oxnard, California, 14-year old Brandon McInerney brought a gun to E.O. Green Junior High School, stood up in the middle of class and shot 15 year-old Larry King twice in the back of the head. A few days later Larry was taken off of life support.

ACLU Defends Nonprofit Free Speech
Late last year, the IRS proposed new political speech rules for certain nonprofits, which strike the wrong balance. Presumably an attempt to crack down on tax-exempt groups spending money to support or oppose candidates without disclosing their donors, the rules would likely do little to address that phenomenon and could seriously chill legitimate issue advocacy from nonprofits on the right and left, particularly smaller ones. We said as much in extensive comments submitted this week to the IRS.

"Snowden Was Justified." Get the Facts and You’ll Likely Agree.
A New York audience devoted nearly two hours yesterday evening to a riveting Intelligence Squared debate about Edward Snowden and the surveillance regime that his disclosures revealed.

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