Blog of Rights

Court-Sanctioned Extortion by Private Probation Companies: Modern Debtors' Prisons

Court-Sanctioned Extortion by Private Probation Companies: Modern Debtors' Prisons

By Nusrat Choudhury, Staff Attorney, ACLU Racial Justice Program at 10:46am
Yesterday, Human Rights Watch released Profiting from Probation, a report that confirms the ACLU's worst fears about the privatization of probation services: for-profit companies are increasingly working with county and city courts around the country to extort poor people for money, including by illegally jailing them simply because they are too poor to pay court-imposed fines and fees. While poor people suffer and taxpayers foot the bill for hidden costs, private companies make big money—to the tune of an estimated $40 million in revenue in Georgia alone, according to the report.
#DearMrPresident: Stop Profiling Us

The Perversity of Profiling

By Laura W. Murphy, Director, ACLU Washington Legislative Office & Hina Shamsi, Director, ACLU National Security Project at 2:19pm

The Justice Department is considering revised racial profiling guidance that, if issued, could set back race relations and basic fairness in this country. We hope that it does not make that mistake.

The New York Times on Thursday reported that…

For One Young Black Man in Newark, 'The Talk' was about Police

For One Young Black Man in Newark, 'The Talk' was about Police

By Michael Hobbs at 3:37pm

This piece was originally published on NJ.com.

When I was 14, my grandfather sat me down for "the talk" – not the birds and the bees, but "the billy clubs and the bullets."

I brushed him off. I thought that in my majority-black hometown…

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…

End Policing for Profit

By Vanita Gupta, Center for Justice at 5:18pm

(Originally posted on Huffington Post.)

Imagine a police officer pulls you over and tells you he believes the cash you're carrying was used to in some illegal activity and — based only on that hunch — he is going to take it…

Corrections Corporation of America's Loss Is Ohio's Gain

Corrections Corporation of America's Loss Is Ohio's Gain

By Mike Brickner, ACLU of Ohio at 2:44pm

What happens when a prison for profit loses one of its main moneymakers?

We're about to find out.

The federal Bureau of Prisons announced last week that they would not renew their contract with Corrections Corporation of America to…

Anonymous Exposes U.S.’s Biggest Private Prison Company As a Bad Financial Investment

Anonymous Exposes U.S.’s Biggest Private Prison Company As a Bad Financial Investment

By Carl Takei, ACLU National Prison Project at 11:04am

The oldest and largest for-prison company is not what it would have you believe, at least according to Anonymous...

Too Many Still Wait to Hear Gideon's Trumpet

Too Many Still Wait to Hear Gideon's Trumpet

By Vanita Gupta, Center for Justice & Ezekiel Edwards, Director, ACLU Criminal Law Reform Project at 11:38am

Fifty years ago, 52-year old drifter Clarence Earl Gideon was prosecuted, convicted, and sentenced without a lawyer to five years imprisonment for stealing bottled drinks and vending machine coins...

We Already Have Police Helicopters, So What’s the Big Deal Over Drones?

We Already Have Police Helicopters, So What’s the Big Deal Over Drones?

By Jay Stanley, Senior Policy Analyst, ACLU Speech, Privacy & Technology Project at 11:26am

As drone regulation legislation works its way through Congress and the 30 (so far) state legislatures where it has been introduced, one question that we hear a lot these days is, “we’ve had police helicopters for a long time, what’s so different…

Jail Doesn't Help Addicts. Let's Stop Sending Them There.

Jail Doesn't Help Addicts. Let's Stop Sending Them There.

By Kara Dansky, Senior Counsel, ACLU Center for Justice at 11:17am

Misti Barrickman has scoliosis. Since she was a teenager, it's been debilitating. It hurt to lie down. It hurt to stand up.

She started taking Oxycontin to help with the pain and became addicted. She came to Seattle to find large quantities…