Blog of Rights

Two Steps Forward, One Step Back

Two Steps Forward, One Step Back

By Jesselyn McCurdy, ACLU Washington Legislative Office at 10:04am
Our country's federal prison population has grown by nearly 800% in the last 30 years.
Three Faces of Racial Profiling: Profiling Communities is Bad Law Enforcement

Three Faces of Racial Profiling: Profiling Communities is Bad Law Enforcement

By Michael German, Senior Policy Counsel, ACLU Washington Legislative Office at 1:46pm

A new ACLU website, "Mapping the FBI" exposes the bureau's nationwide racial and ethnic mapping program.

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…

Cop Assaults Elementary School Student

Cop Assaults Elementary School Student

By Seema Sadanandan, Organizer, ACLU of the Nation's Capital at 1:43pm

When Officer David Bailey grabbed a 10-year-old student by the back of his head and slammed it into the school cafeteria table, it is safe to say that student was not free to leave. On that afternoon, Bailey decided that his routine beat on the streets…

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…

Sending Your Kid to the Wrong School Could Land You Five Years Behind Bars

By Inimai Chettiar, ACLU & Rebecca McCray, ACLU Criminal Law Reform Project at 5:34pm

Last Tuesday, something happened in Ohio that should shock the conscience of every American. After a seven-day jury trial, Kelley Williams-Bolar was found guilty of two third-degree felonies — with a sentence of five years in prison each.…

Why Are We Spending So Much To Lock Up Elderly Prisoners Who Pose Little Threat?

Why Are We Spending So Much To Lock Up Elderly Prisoners Who Pose Little Threat?

By Inimai Chettiar, ACLU & Vanita Gupta, Center for Justice at 3:07pm

Elderly prisoners are the least dangerous group of people behind bars but the most expensive to incarcerate. Yet despite this truth, the number of elderly prisoners is skyrocketing. Harsher sentences for less serious crimes – one defining characteristic of our failed “tough on crime” and “war on drugs” policies – are responsible for this staggering increase in the number of older prisoners, and taxpayers are taking the hit.

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…

Easy Money: Civil Asset Forfeiture Abuse by Police

By Chloe Cockburn, Advocacy and Policy Counsel, ACLU at 1:16pm

On November 18, 2009, Shukree Simmons, who is African-American, was driving with his business partner on the highway from Macon, Georgia, back to Atlanta after selling his cherished Chevy Silverado truck to a restaurant owner in Macon for $3,700…