Overincarceration

After the Pussy Riot: What This Unjust Sentence Can Teach Americans

After the Pussy Riot: What This Unjust Sentence Can Teach Americans

By Rebecca McCray, ACLU Criminal Law Reform Project at 2:12pm
In the last few months, concerned American celebrities, musicians and activists have joined protesters abroad to demonstrate their support for a Russian feminist collective, Pussy Riot. Following a peaceful performance in Moscow’s Christ the Savior Cathedral, in which the group publicly criticized President Vladimir Putin, the three women were arrested, jailed, prosecuted and ultimately sentenced to two years in jail for “hooliganism driven by religious hatred.” Celebrities and musicians, including Madonna, Sting, Paul McCartney, Chloe Sevigny, Moby and Bjork, have all enthusiastically declared their opposition to the prosecution, conviction and sentencing of Pussy Riot. Across social media outlets, Americans are imploring their readers and friends: Free Pussy Riot! With this moment comes an opportunity to dissect what exactly it is that has animated so many Americans and dominated a significant strand of the Western media’s attention.
Reducing our Reliance on Incarceration: A Look at Promising State-Level Reforms in 2013

Reducing our Reliance on Incarceration: A Look at Promising State-Level Reforms in 2013

By Chloe Cockburn, Advocacy and Policy Counsel, ACLU & Alex Stamm, ACLU Center for Justice at 4:51pm

Good news for criminal justice reform: the 2013 state legislatures have already introduced a number of impressive bills that build on the growing momentum of the last few years. If 2012 was notable for the number of major reforms that passed (see summaries…

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.

What Rights?

What Rights?

By Melinda Chateauvert, Author of Sex Workers Unite! A History of the Movement from Stonewall to SlutWalk at 4:22pm

Melinda Chateauvert will read excerpts from Sex Workers Unite! and sign copies of the book on Wednesday, March 12. For more information and to RSVP, visit http://sexworkersunite.eventbrite.com.

Do sex workers have rights? Put another way, can…

"Tough on Crime" No Longer the American Mantra?

"Tough on Crime" No Longer the American Mantra?

By Inimai Chettiar, ACLU & Alex Stamm, ACLU Center for Justice at 4:35pm

Politicians over the last quarter-century have held strong to the conventional wisdom that being "tough on crime" will win elections and appease the public's appetite for safety. And for the most part, it seems Americans did feel this…

Breaking the Addiction to Incarceration: Weekly Highlights

By Alex Stamm, ACLU Center for Justice at 2:26pm

Today, the U.S. has the highest incarceration rate of any country in the world. With over 2.3 million men and women living behind bars, our imprisonment rate is the highest it’s ever been in U.S. history. And yet, our criminal justice system…

Two Frustrated Federal Judges Show Us How to Have a More Fair and Effective Justice System

Two Frustrated Federal Judges Show Us How to Have a More Fair and Effective Justice System

By Alex Stamm, ACLU Center for Justice at 3:52pm

In 2010, 22-year-old Jamel Dossie served as a middle-man in a series of hand-to-hand crack sales. After three transactions involving a federal informant, Mr. Dossie had handed over – “sold” – a total of 88.1 grams, or 3.1 ounces,…

What Crack Cocaine Teaches Us About NSA Reform

What Crack Cocaine Teaches Us About NSA Reform

By Laura W. Murphy, Director, ACLU Washington Legislative Office at 11:41am

This piece originally ran at POLITICO Magazine.

This week, Patrick Leahy, the Democratic senator from Vermont, introduced a revised version of the USA Freedom Act, a bill to finally start pulling the reins on America's out-of-control surveillance…

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