Blog of Rights

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.
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…

A Psychotic Episode Shouldn't End in a Jail Cell

A Psychotic Episode Shouldn't End in a Jail Cell

By Kara Dansky, Senior Counsel, ACLU Center for Justice at 11:59am

Michelle Mata wants to be treated the way you would want your mom to be treated.

She's an aunt and a neighbor. She likes line dancing. And she suffers from major depressive disorder with psychotic features.

When people like Michelle…

A Close Shave for Religious Liberty at the Supreme Court

A Close Shave for Religious Liberty at the Supreme Court

By Heather L. Weaver, ACLU Program on Freedom of Religion and Belief at 10:26am

To shave or not to shave? That is the question the Supreme Court will consider today as it once again turns to fundamental issues of religious liberty.

This morning, the justices will hear oral argument in Holt v. Hobbs, a Muslim prisoner's…

Victory Against Sheriff Joe Arpaio’s Jails, Where Too Many Have Suffered and Died From Neglect

Victory Against Sheriff Joe Arpaio’s Jails, Where Too Many Have Suffered and Died From Neglect

By Eric Balaban, ACLU National Prison Project at 2:08pm

It took a nurse observing a man “eating chunks [taken out of his cell wall]” before he was moved out of solitary confinement.

This happened in Maricopa County Jail, run by the infamous Sheriff Joe Arpaio. Such incidents are not rare.

The…

The Wal-Mart Model: Not Just for Retail, Now It’s for Private Prisons Too!

The Wal-Mart Model: Not Just for Retail, Now It’s for Private Prisons Too!

By Carl Takei, ACLU National Prison Project at 12:02pm

The nation's biggest and baddest for-profit prison company suddenly cares about halfway houses – so much so, that they want in on the action.

About a year after acquiring a smaller firm that operates halfway houses and other community corrections…

Three Years in a Cage. No Charges and No Lawyer.

Three Years in a Cage. No Charges and No Lawyer.

By Brandon Buskey, ACLU Criminal Law Reform Project at 1:01pm

Octavious Burks has been waiting for 10 months.

He's locked in a jail in Scott County, Mississippi. He hasn't been formally charged. He hasn't been assigned an attorney.

This is a recurring nightmare for Octavious: The same thing happened…

This Is What Happens When the Secretary of Defense is in Charge of Your Medical Care

This Is What Happens When the Secretary of Defense is in Charge of Your Medical Care

By Chase Strangio, Staff Attorney, ACLU at 10:08am

When Chelsea Manning was sentenced to 35 years in prison on August 21, 2013, she was immediately worried that she would be denied desperately needed medical care for gender dysphoria.

So far, her worst fears of suffering without treatment have…

Solitary confinement cell

Ten Years Without Other People

By Nzinga A. Harrison, MD at 10:41am

Every time they throw my brother into solitary, he loses contact visits. When we visit, he's behind glass, or we can only see him via video. We can't hug him. He can't hold his new baby niece.

My brother, Kofi M. Ajabu, has been imprisoned…

I Was 16 and in Solitary Before I Ever Even Went to Trial

I Was 16 and in Solitary Before I Ever Even Went to Trial

By Reginald Dwayne Betts, Legal Intern, ACLU at 2:01pm

February is cold in Northern Virginia. It's even colder when you're in a cell alone, without a mattress, a blanket, a pillow, or a sheet.

When I walked into that cell in the basement of the Fairfax County Jail, my hands cuffed behind my back…