Blog of Rights

The Reality of Federal Drug Sentencing

The Reality of Federal Drug Sentencing

By Alex Stamm, ACLU Center for Justice at 4:53pm
Federal drug laws create a labeling problem. When you hear the term “drug trafficker,” you might think of Pablo Escobar or Walter White, but the reality is that under federal law, drug traffickers include people who buy pseudoephedrine for their methamphetamine dealer; act as middleman in a series of small transactions; or even pick up a suitcase for the wrong friend. Thanks to conspiracy laws, everyone on the totem pole can be subject to the same severe mandatory minimum sentences.
Profiling Won't Save Us

Profiling Won't Save Us

By Laura W. Murphy, Director, ACLU Washington Legislative Office at 11:50am

This piece originally appeared on The Hill's Congress Blog.

The Obama administration this week announced new guidance on how federal law enforcement agents may use race and other characteristics, such as religion and national origin, in their…

The War on Drugs = A War on Women and Families

The War on Drugs = A War on Women and Families

By Lenora M. Lapidus, Women's Rights Project at 5:44pm

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…

Police Shouldn't Just Film Themselves Being Santa's Helpers

Police Shouldn't Just Film Themselves Being Santa's Helpers

By Micah McCoy, ACLU of New Mexico at 4:47pm

You may have seen the viral video making the rounds on social media: a millionaire "Secret Santa" donated $100,000 to the sheriff's department in Jackson County, Missouri, to hand out to the less fortunate in the community. The generous donor said…

Spotted on Campus: Up-Armored Mine-Resistant Monster Trucks

Spotted on Campus: Up-Armored Mine-Resistant Monster Trucks

By Samuel Weiss at 1:05pm

With the cost of tuition skyrocketing, you may be wondering why universities are getting mine-resistant ambush-protected vehicles – or MRAPs ­– which are designed for the battlefield and cost $700,000.

The answer is simple: They don't…

Still Locking People Up for Being Poor? Really?! It's 2014.

Still Locking People Up for Being Poor? Really?! It's 2014.

By Mike Brickner, ACLU of Ohio at 2:43pm

Debtors' prisons sound like ancient history, right? Unfortunately, they're all too common across the United States. In spite of the Constitution, case law, and common sense, low-income people are routinely jailed in places as far-flung as Georgia…

"People in <em>Your</em> Hood Ride Bikes to Shoot People."

"People in Your Hood Ride Bikes to Shoot People."

By Nusrat Choudhury, Staff Attorney, ACLU Racial Justice Program at 12:22pm

This week, 22-year-old Modesto Sanchez told lawmakers of the Massachusetts Legislature about the day he and his friend rode their bikes down the street on which Sanchez lived, only to be stopped and frisked within minutes by Boston police officers.…

Safer Communities and Fewer People Behind Bars

Safer Communities and Fewer People Behind Bars

By Sarah Solon, Communications Strategist, ACLU at 3:49pm

Before he started singing with muppets, John Oliver showed us a lot of boxes of Cheerios. This was in the second minute of his epic rant on the state of the U.S. criminal justice system last week.

Varieties of Cheerios – from "Frosted" to…

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…

Poor People Have Rights Too

Poor People Have Rights Too

By Rachel Bloom, ACLU at 4:05pm

Drug-testing those applying for public assistance is unconstitutional, shortsighted and will end up costing states more than any possible savings.