Blog of Rights

If a Lawyer Stole $5 From a Client...

By Tanya Greene, Advocacy and Policy Counsel, ACLU at 5:25pm
"If a lawyer stole $5 from a client, he would probably be prosecuted and might even go to jail — but that prosecutor stole 18 years of my life and what happened to him? Nothing."

Joining the Movement: Congress Takes Action to Abolish Federal Death Penalty

By Jesselyn McCurdy, ACLU Washington Legislative Office at 3:27pm

It's been more than a week now since the execution of Troy Davis. Protesters may no longer be standing vigil and the story may no longer be making front-page headlines. But one thing is certain: millions of Americans' eyes have been opened to the…

Death Penalty Unconstitutional, Says Justice Stevens

By Suzanne Ito, ACLU at 4:21pm

On Wednesday, retiring Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens gave an interview at the annual conference of the 5th Judicial Circuit in Chicago, and explained his changed view on the death penalty.

In 1976, Justice Stevens was among the…

Reggie Clemons and the Parade of Horribles

By Christopher Hill, Capital Punishment Project at 4:37pm

(Originally posted on Daily Kos.)

As soon as the St. Louis police officers knocked on the door of the home of Vera Thomas in April 1991, a parade of horribles began which culminated with her son, Reggie Clemons, being convicted of murder and sentenced to death. The case is infected by police brutality, prosecutorial misconduct, witnesses with motivations to give false testimony, dreadful defense lawyering and blatant racism. All of this led to no justice for Reggie Clemons.

Reggie Clemons was destined to die as soon as he walked into the police station for questioning. The police asked him about the deaths of Julie and Robin Kerry, two young white women who fell to their deaths from the Chain of Rocks Bridge in Missouri. Clemons and three people he was with that night were suspected of robbing, raping and murdering the Kerry sisters and forcing their cousin, Tom Cummins, to jump off the bridge.

At the police station, Clemons was beaten until he cried. When the police began to tape the confession, Clemons invoked his right to an attorney and said that the police had beaten him. When a second tape was made, Clemons confessed to rape because the police were preparing to beat him again. He did not confess to murder.

An Execution, Censored

An Execution, Censored

By Lee Rowland, Staff Attorney, ACLU Speech, Privacy & Technology Project at 10:01am

On April 29, 2014, Clayton Lockett was scheduled to die by lethal injection at the hands of the State of Oklahoma. Under a state law that requires public witnesses to all executions, 12 journalists gathered to observe his death.

They never…

An Innocent Man Is Dying of Cancer on Texas's Death Row

An Innocent Man Is Dying of Cancer on Texas's Death Row

By Sarah Solon, Communications Strategist, ACLU at 2:53pm

Max Soffar has a long history of self-medicating. When he was four, his parents found him passed out next to their car, gas cap in hand. Since birth, Max's brain has been damaged. That damage has been made worse by years of physical and mental abuse…

The Shadow Economy of Lethal Injection Drug Deals

The Shadow Economy of Lethal Injection Drug Deals

By Tanya Greene, Advocacy and Policy Counsel, ACLU at 4:46pm

For all we know, the "pharmacy" might be a high school science class.

That's how a federal appeals court judge described Missouri's secretive death penalty system back in the spring.

Shady medical experiments masquerading as legal executions…

Executing Human Dignity: US Death Penalty System to Undergo International Scrutiny

Executing Human Dignity: US Death Penalty System to Undergo International Scrutiny

By Katie Haas, Speech, Privacy, and Technology Project at 10:16am

The Death Penalty Information Center (DPIC) recently released its 2012 Year End Report, which contained some important news: the number of death sentences in the U.S. remained very close to its 2011 historic low. The 78 death sentences handed down…

Project Liberty Takes on Indigent Defense

Project Liberty Takes on Indigent Defense

By Lauren Alexander, ACLU of New York at 11:19am

Project Liberty, the New York Civil Liberties Union very own television show, is back and broadcasting across New York State. Our fourth episode highlights the NYCLU’s relentless fight to guarantee that New York’s criminal justice system…