Blog of Rights

Finally Headed Home

Finally Headed Home

By Jennifer Turner, Human Rights Researcher, Human Rights Program, ACLU at 7:46pm
Jason Hernandez says he is still shaking from the news that he will be released from prison in five years. Yesterday, his life without parole sentence was commuted to 20 years.
Juwan Wickware being interrogated

Only in America: 16-Year-Old Locked Up for the Rest of His Life

By Steven M. Watt, Senior Staff Attorney, ACLU Human Rights Program & Allison Frankel, Criminal Law Reform Project, ACLU at 4:37pm

Juwan Wickware wasn't the shooter. But he and more than 2,500 others nationwide will enter prison as teenagers, grow into adults, and die – all behind bars.

This is not right. The sentence must fit the crime, and we cannot throw…

I Will Die Here, Unless President Obama Helps

I Will Die Here, Unless President Obama Helps

By Reynolds Wintersmith, Federal Life-Without-Parole Prisoner at 1:22pm

I joined a drug ring when I was 17 years old and, for just over a year, sold crack and powder cocaine in Rockford, Ill. I was arrested when I was 19 years old.

I am now 39 years old. I have spent over half of my life in federal prison. I have…

15-Year-Old Gets Six Life Sentences?

15-Year-Old Gets Six Life Sentences?

By Alex Stamm, ACLU Center for Justice at 1:27pm

At gunpoint, two 18-year-olds and a 15-year-old robbed a dozen other teenagers at a house party, taking money, phones, and marijuana. No shots were fired, but one of the 18-year-olds struck someone with the butt of his gun.

The crime is unquestionably…

It's Like You're Sold a Dream

It's Like You're Sold a Dream

By Lance White at 2:01pm

I lost my drive after my older brother Rufus was sentenced. I didn't care. I didn't trust. That was my attitude. Rufus was the father figure I looked up to. When he went to jail for the rest of his life, I started looking up to his buddies. A lot of…

Private Prisons Are the Problem, Not the Solution

Private Prisons Are the Problem, Not the Solution

By Margaret Winter, National Prison Project & Gabriel Eber, ACLU National Prison Project at 4:38pm

For the past two years, the ACLU and the Southern Poverty Law Center have been investigating and exposing a horrifying pattern of abuse against juveniles and the mentally ill in two Mississippi prisons operated by the GEO Group, one of the biggest…

I Was Six-Years-Old and Locked in Solitary

I Was Six-Years-Old and Locked in Solitary

By James Burns at 1:24pm

Solitary was the worst thing that's ever happened to me. I was in and out of jail while I was growing up, and every time I was in solitary confinement, it felt as horrible as the first time I was locked up and left alone.

The first time I'd…

Local Police, Armed with the Weapons of War, Too Often Mistakenly Shoot and Kill

Local Police, Armed with the Weapons of War, Too Often Mistakenly Shoot and Kill

By Kara Dansky, Senior Counsel, ACLU Center for Justice & Sarah Solon, Communications Strategist, ACLU at 2:52pm

Seven-year-old Aiyana Jones was sleeping on the couch next to her grandmother when a SWAT team threw a “flashbang” through the window of her Detroit, Michigan home. The “flashbang” – a stun grenade originally developed for wartime raids –…

Sorting at a mailroom. Photo source: Jason V. via Wikimedia

Assembly-Line Injustice

By Carl Takei, ACLU National Prison Project at 10:46am

Dozens of tired, bedraggled men line up in shackles to plead guilty en masse. A judge claims his personal best is sentencing 70 people in 30 minutes: an average of twenty-five seconds per person to review the charges, hear his or her plea, and hand…

Anal Probe for a Traffic Stop?

Anal Probe for a Traffic Stop?

By Allison Frankel, Criminal Law Reform Project, ACLU at 3:08pm

David Eckert was pulling out of a Wal-Mart parking lot when police officers pulled him over for failing to stop at a parking lot stop sign. Police ordered Eckert to step out of his vehicle, and that's when he committed the highly suspicious act of…