Blog of Rights

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.
Congress Can Create a Smarter Criminal Justice System

Congress Can Create a Smarter Criminal Justice System

By Laura W. Murphy, Director, ACLU Washington Legislative Office at 1:46pm

The following op-ed was originally published by The Hill.

If you doubt the unfairness of our country's criminal justice system, look no further than Hamedah Hasan.

When Hamedah was 21 years old, she fled an abusive relationship and…

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…

Time Out Is for Kids. This Isn't.

Time Out Is for Kids. This Isn't.

By Amy Fettig, ACLU National Prison Project & Tanya Greene, Advocacy and Policy Counsel, ACLU at 11:35am

"I developed techniques to survive. I've learned to play chess with other [kids] through a six-inch wall to keep myself occupied. But for others, it breaks them, makes them either violent or suicidal."

These are the words of Lino Silva, who…

Extreme Sentencing – the "New Normal?"

Extreme Sentencing – the "New Normal?"

By Vanita Gupta, Center for Justice & Chloe Cockburn, Advocacy and Policy Counsel, ACLU at 1:33pm

It should outrage us that a homeless man will be in prison for the rest of his life because he was the middleman in the sale of $10 worth of marijuana. We can all pretty much agree that the punishment of growing old and dying behind bars for such offenses…

My Dad Will Never Come Home

My Dad Will Never Come Home

By April Anderson, Daughter of Dicky Joe Jackson at 1:23pm

Dad usually suggests we leave a little early because leaving is the 'elephant in the room' that we're all trying to avoid. "Ya'll go on and head home and get some rest. Don't worry about me, I'm fine." It's the same stuff every time.

My dad…

What a Waste

What a Waste

By Jennifer Turner, Human Rights Researcher, Human Rights Program, ACLU at 9:51am

It's time to abandon the mindset that our criminal justice system should only be about extreme, one-size-fits-all punishment – particularly when the skyrocketing number of these sentences being meted out is grossly out of proportion with crime rates, which are falling.

Our Presidents Smoked It. Why Is It Still a Crime?

Our Presidents Smoked It. Why Is It Still a Crime?

By Lynda Garcia, Soros Fellow, Criminal Law Reform Project, ACLU at 10:50am

The cover of a recent issue of The Nation calling for marijuana legalization features President Obama with his high school buddies, known as the Choom Gang, who, allegedly, were very into smoking weed. And as The Nation points out, Obama has company—Presidents…

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…

Perhaps the Saddest Profit Motive Ever

Perhaps the Saddest Profit Motive Ever

By Mishi Faruqee, Juvenile Justice Policy Strategist, ACLU at 3:16pm

In Pennsylvania, there are two companies called PA Child Care LLC and Western PA Child Care. You might think that these companies offer services and supports to kids to help them become productive adults. You’d be wrong.

These companies offered…