Blog of Rights

"I'm Still Gonna Be Me": Leading the Charge for Change in Prisons and Everywhere Else

"I'm Still Gonna Be Me": Leading the Charge for Change in Prisons and Everywhere Else

By John Knight, LGBT Project at 11:08am
I first met Tatyana a few years after the Wisconsin legislature passed the Inmate Sex Change Prevention Act – a cruel piece of legislation aimed at denying urgently needed healthcare to any transperson in custody in Wisconsin.
From Dee to Patti: Transgender Women Fighting Back Against Sexual Assault in Detention

From Dee to Patti: Transgender Women Fighting Back Against Sexual Assault in Detention

By Chase Strangio, Staff Attorney, ACLU at 11:39am

Imagine how scared you would be if you were taken into custody by the police and told repeatedly that you are not who you know yourself to be. You are already afraid and the process is out of your control. You want to at least be kept safe while you…

Will Nelson Mandela's Solitary Confinement Inspire Positive Change?

Will Nelson Mandela's Solitary Confinement Inspire Positive Change?

By David Fathi, National Prison Project at 3:55pm

It's a short walk from my hotel here in Cape Town to the waterfront. From there you can see Robben Island, the notorious prison where Nelson Mandela and other freedom fighters were incarcerated during the darkest days of apartheid.

During his…

 A Living Nightmare in America's Paradise

A Living Nightmare in America's Paradise

By Eric Balaban, ACLU National Prison Project at 3:12pm

Imagine being charged with a crime, going to trial, being found not guilty by reason of insanity, but remaining behind bars for years. You are denied access to a psychiatrist to treat your serious mental illness; you grow more acutely ill; and you…

How US Prison Officials Rubber-Stamped a CIA Torture Chamber

How US Prison Officials Rubber-Stamped a CIA Torture Chamber

By Carl Takei, ACLU National Prison Project at 3:43pm

The CIA's chief interrogator called it "the closest thing he has seen to a dungeon."

At the agency's COBALT detention site in Afghanistan – also known as the "Salt Pit" – detainees were kept in total darkness, shackled to the floors or…

The United States Admits It Crossed a Line. That’s the Least of It.

The United States Admits It Crossed a Line. That’s the Least of It.

By Sarah Mehta, Researcher, ACLU Human Rights Program at 12:54pm

On Wednesday, the United Nations Committee Against Torture began its review of the United States’ record on torture—not only at the infamous Guantánamo Bay but closer to home, in our prisons, police forces, and immigration facilities.

The…

Scott Panetti

Texas Wants to Kill This Mentally Ill Man

By Cassandra Stubbs, Director, ACLU Capital Punishment Project at 11:47am

Wearing a cowboy costume and a purple bandana, Scott Panetti defended himself at his capital trial in Texas without counsel, where he tried to call the Pope, J.F.K, and Jesus Christ to the witness stand. In Tennessee, Richard Taylor represented himself…

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…

Vee Isn't the Scariest Villain in <em>Orange Is the New Black</em>. This Is.

Vee Isn't the Scariest Villain in Orange Is the New Black. This Is.

By Helen Vera, National Prison Project Fellow, ACLU at 10:22am

In the second season opener of Orange is the New Black, the show's heroine Piper uses her breakfast to paint a bird on the wall. A month alone in a cell the size of a parking spot has clearly messed with her head. Thirty minutes later, a row of naked…

Dee's Triumph: One of the Most Important Trans Victories You Never Heard Of

Dee's Triumph: One of the Most Important Trans Victories You Never Heard Of

By Chase Strangio, Staff Attorney, ACLU at 2:43pm

On August 21, 1989, Dee Farmer, a black, transgender woman, sued prison officials for the "mental anguish, psychological damage, humil[i]ation, swollen face, cuts and bruises to her mouth and lips and a cut on her back, as well as some bleeding" that…