Blog of Rights

Breaking the Addiction to Incarceration: Weekly Highlights

By Alex Stamm, ACLU Center for Justice at 2:26pm
Today, the U.S. has the highest incarceration rate of any country in the world. With over 2.3 million men and women living behind bars, our imprisonment rate is the highest it’s ever been in U.S. history. And yet, our criminal justice system has failed on every count: public safety, fairness and cost-effectiveness. Across the country, the criminal justice reform conversation is heating up. Each week, we feature our some of the most exciting and relevant news in overincarceration discourse that we’ve spotted from the previous week. Check back weekly for our top picks.
Ohio Governor John Kasich Stops Second Consecutive Execution

Ohio Governor John Kasich Stops Second Consecutive Execution

By Mike Brickner, ACLU of Ohio at 4:44pm

In the second time in as many months, Governor John Kasich has intervened to stop an execution. Today, he commuted John Jeffrey Eley’s sentence to life without the possibility of parole. Eley was scheduled to be executed on July 26.

Death Penalty Abolition Movement “To See Sunny Days”

Death Penalty Abolition Movement “To See Sunny Days”

By Allison Frankel, Criminal Law Reform Project, ACLU at 11:29am

On July 3, U.N. delegates and NGO representatives from around the world gathered at the U.N. Headquarters in New York for an invigorating conference entitled “Moving Away From the Death Penalty - Lessons from National Experiences.” Panelists,…

North Carolina's Historic Racial Justice Act Gutted

North Carolina's Historic Racial Justice Act Gutted

By Sarah Preston, ACLU of North Carolina at 2:42pm

The North Carolina General Assembly voted yesterday to override Gov. Bev Perdue's veto of SB 416, a bill that essentially guts the Racial Justice Act (RJA), meaning the destructive bill will become law. The RJA was an historic piece of legislation…

Forty Years after Furman: Still "Fastened to the Obsolete"

Forty Years after Furman: Still "Fastened to the Obsolete"

By Denny LeBoeuf, Capital Punishment Project at 11:15am

We celebrate this day 40 years ago, when the Supreme Court, in Furman v. Georgia, declared the death penalty unconstitutional.

The Court divided in 1972 as it had never done before. Nine Justices wrote nine separate opinions, with a majority…

James Watson, Discoverer of DNA:  Patenting Human Genes Is “Lunacy”

James Watson, Discoverer of DNA: Patenting Human Genes Is “Lunacy”

By Sandra S. Park, Staff Attorney, ACLU Women's Rights Project at 12:11pm

Recently, Dr. James Watson filed an amicus brief opposing gene patents in our lawsuit challenging the patents on two human genes associated with hereditary breast and ovarian cancer. Dr. Watson, along with Francis Crick, identified DNA’s ability…

Feds Should Stop Forcing Death Penalty on Rhode Island

Feds Should Stop Forcing Death Penalty on Rhode Island

By Steven Brown, ACLU of Rhode Island at 4:18pm

A man named John Gordon was hanged by the state of Rhode Island in 1845. The concern about the fairness of his execution was so great that seven years later, Rhode Island became the second state in the country to abolish the death penalty. No person…

An Innocent Man’s Tortured Days on Texas’s Death Row

An Innocent Man’s Tortured Days on Texas’s Death Row

By Anthony Graves, who spent years in solitary confinement on Texas’ death row before being proven innocent in 2010. Yesterday he testified about the experience at a Senate subcommittee hearing on solitary confinement. His website is www.anthonybelieves.com.

On…

Spared From a Death Sentence Based On Falsehoods

Spared From a Death Sentence Based On Falsehoods

By Rachel Myers, ACLU at 5:52pm

An almost-certainly innocent man was spared from death at the hands of the state of Texas yesterday when the highest criminal court in Texas threw out the death sentence of ACLU client Manuel Velez, ruling it was based on the false testimony of a state…

Historic Racial Justice Act Faces Repeal

By Sarah Preston, ACLU of North Carolina at 12:02pm

This week, rather than acknowledge a growing mountain of evidence of racial bias in death penalty proceedings, especially in the selection of capital juries, the North Carolina House of Representatives chose to essentially gut the Racial Justice Act…