Blog of Rights

For Some Convicted of Drug Offenses, the Punishment Never Ends

For Some Convicted of Drug Offenses, the Punishment Never Ends

By Julie Ebenstein, Staff Attorney, Voting Rights Project, ACLU at 4:42pm
Mass incarceration not only destroys families and mangles communities, it slowly erodes our democracy. Too many Americans convicted of nonviolent offenses, such as drug crimes, are punished with excessive prison sentences and then permanently ejected from our democracy through the “civil death” of losing their right to vote.
Scott Panetti

Texas Wants to Kill This Mentally Ill Man

By Cassandra Stubbs, Director, ACLU Capital Punishment Project at 11:47am

Wearing a cowboy costume and a purple bandana, Scott Panetti defended himself at his capital trial in Texas without counsel, where he tried to call the Pope, J.F.K, and Jesus Christ to the witness stand. In Tennessee, Richard Taylor represented himself…

Father of Mike Brown: "If I Could Have Stood Between Officer Wilson’s Gun and My Son, I Would Have."

Father of Mike Brown: "If I Could Have Stood Between Officer Wilson’s Gun and My Son, I Would Have."

The parents of Michael Brown – the black teenager killed by a police officer while walking, unarmed, in Ferguson, Missouri this summer – are in Geneva this week, as a United Nations committee reviews the United States' compliance with the Convention…

The Police's Get-Out-of-Jail-Free Card

The Police's Get-Out-of-Jail-Free Card

By Nathan Freed Wessler, Staff Attorney, ACLU Speech, Privacy & Technology Project at 2:07pm

This piece originally appeared at Slate's Jurisprudence, under the title, "Search Party."

It used to be that when police violated a suspect's Fourth Amendment rights through an unconstitutional search, evidence derived from the search would…

Let an Innocent Man Spend His Last Days at Home

Let an Innocent Man Spend His Last Days at Home

By Barry Scheck, Co-Director, The Innocence Project at 11:39am

This piece originally appeared at the Texas Tribune.

Max Soffar, an innocent man on death row in Texas, has just a few months to live.

He's dying of liver cancer, and his last wish is to hold his wife, Anita, in his arms.

His…

Eight Police Officers Fired 46 Times at My Mentally Ill Son for Holding a Pen Knife

Eight Police Officers Fired 46 Times at My Mentally Ill Son for Holding a Pen Knife

By Jewel Hall at 5:05pm

The following is an excerpt from an interview with Jewel Hall conducted by the ACLU of Michigan about the killing in 2012 of her son Milton by eight police officers. Parts of her interview appear in the video below, which also includes footage of the…

Odds Are, You Are Suspicious

Odds Are, You Are Suspicious

By Samia Hossain, William J. Brennan Fellow, ACLU Speech, Privacy, & Technology Project at 9:55am

When you get off a train, do you get off ahead of passengers? Or do you get off behind passengers? When you're going on a trip, do you come off as nervous? Or are you an unusually calm traveler? How about if you make a phone call at a station, do you…

Do We Really Still Need Free Speech Week?

Do We Really Still Need Free Speech Week?

By Tony Rothert, Legal Director, ACLU of Missouri at 1:43pm

You bet. More than two centuries since the Bill of Rights was drafted, we continue to see a fundamental lack of understanding on government's part of just what freedom of speech means. Nowhere was that more apparent recently than in a Missouri suburb…

Not Having a Roof Over Your Head Can Mean Jail Time: The Criminalization of Homelessness

Not Having a Roof Over Your Head Can Mean Jail Time: The Criminalization of Homelessness

By Kara Dansky, Senior Counsel, ACLU Center for Justice at 1:31pm

Kilee Lowe was sitting in a park when cops picked her up and booked her into jail overnight.

After she got out the next morning, she returned to the park. The same officer who had thrown her into a cell not 24 hours before had booked her again.…

"What could possibly justify a government knowingly forcing its citizens into ho

Pushed into Homelessness by Their Own Government

By Brandon Buskey, ACLU Criminal Law Reform Project at 10:46am

On the outskirts of Florida's Miami-Dade County, dozens of individuals formerly convicted of sexual offenses live as exiles on an abandoned strip of land near a railroad track. The area has no shelter from the elements, no running water, and no bathrooms.…