Blog of Rights

Crop of image by Arlo Bates via Flickr

When Big Data Becomes a Civil Rights Problem

By Chris Calabrese, Legislative Counsel, ACLU Washington Legislative Office at 11:06am
My colleague Jay Stanley just wrote about an invasive new police tactic employed by the Chicago Police Department. Using software created by an engineer at the Illinois Institute of Technology, the city developed a “’heat list’ — an index of the roughly 400 people in the city of Chicago supposedly most likely to be involved in violent crime.” The criteria for placement on the list are secret but reportedly go beyond indicators like criminal conviction, and raise real questions about racial bias in the selection process.
New Document Sheds Light on Government’s Ability to Search iPhones

New Document Sheds Light on Government’s Ability to Search iPhones

By Chris Soghoian, Principal Technologist and Senior Policy Analyst, ACLU Speech, Privacy and Technology Project & Naomi Gilens, ACLU Speech, Privacy and Technology Project at 10:11am

Cell phone searches are a common law enforcement tool, but up until now, the public has largely been in the dark regarding how much sensitive information the government can get with this invasive surveillance technique. A document submitted to court…

Being Poor Is Not a Crime

Being Poor Is Not a Crime

By Rachel Bloom, ACLU at 1:25pm

June 2011 marks the 40th anniversary of President Richard Nixon's declaration of a "war on drugs" — a war that has cost roughly a trillion dollars, has produced little to no effect on the supply of or demand for drugs in the United…

Florida Law Punishes Poor People for Being Poor

By Rachel Bloom, ACLU at 2:05pm

During this legislative session, more than two dozen states have introduced legislation to drug test individuals receiving or applying for various forms of public assistance. And by public assistance I mean individuals applying for Temporary Assistance…

Criminalizing Drug Users Is Killing People

Criminalizing Drug Users Is Killing People

By Chloe Cockburn, Advocacy and Policy Counsel, ACLU at 5:09pm

21-year-old Alysa Ivy was surrounded by people when she died of a heroin overdose. Not one of them called 911 for help. Instead, they left her alone in a motel room, afraid they’d be arrested if they called the authorities.

Alysa’s death…

Treating Addiction as a Disease, not a Crime

Treating Addiction as a Disease, not a Crime

By Rebecca McCray, ACLU Criminal Law Reform Project at 4:05pm
Like many who suffer from addiction, Cameron Douglas’ path to recovery has not been without setbacks. Currently incarcerated in federal prison on a five-year sentence for drug distribution and heroin possession, the 33-year-old son of actor Michael…
What Happened to My Son Should Never Happen Again

What Happened to My Son Should Never Happen Again

By Grace Bauer, Interim Executive Director, Justice for Families at 4:02pm

Imagine you have a 13-year-old son. And now imagine the worst that could happen to him. I'm a mother, and I've lived through it.

When my son Corey was 13, he was raped by another young prisoner. Cell guards stood by and watched, taking bets…

Drug-Testing Welfare Recipients: A Trend with No Traction

By Rachel Bloom, ACLU at 4:26pm

Two months into the state legislative session, not a single welfare drug testing bill has passed into law.

Supreme Court Says Jails Can Strip Search You – Even for Traffic Violations

Supreme Court Says Jails Can Strip Search You – Even for Traffic Violations

By Inimai Chettiar, ACLU at 2:18pm

Yesterday a divided Supreme Court ruled in Florence v. Burlington that any person arrested can be subject to a strip search — even for a minor offense or traffic violation — without any reason to suspect that they may be carrying a…