Racial Profiling

Racial profiling is law enforcement and private security practices that disproportionately target people of color for investigation and enforcement. The ACLU works on behalf of individuals who have been victims of racial profiling by airlines, police, and government agencies. Our work also encompasses major initiatives in public education and advocacy, including the creation of essential resources, lobbying for the passage of data collection and anti-profiling legislation, and litigation of airline and highway profiling cases.

What Does Sheriff Arpaio Have To Do with Immigration Reform?

What Does Sheriff Arpaio Have To Do with Immigration Reform?

By Cecillia Wang, ACLU Immigrants' Rights Project at 1:11pm
Last month, a U.S. District Court in Phoenix issued a 142-page decision against Sheriff Joe Arpaio and the Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office (MCSO) in Ortega Melendres v. Arpaio.  After  a three-week trial, the court found that MCSO had an unconstitutional policy of targeting Latinos for traffic stops and of detaining Latinos based on nothing more than a suspicion of being undocumented immigrants.  The court noted that MCSO admitted to using “Hispanic appearance” to determine who was suspected of immigration violations and that Sheriff Arpaio had acted upon racially biased constituent letters in deciding where to conduct “saturation patrols.” During these "saturation patrols," (known to residents as immigration sweeps) over 70% of people arrested were Latino – in a county where Latinos make up only a third of the total population.  As the federal court pointed out, the policy of racial profiling and illegal detentions arose from the Sheriff's single-minded focus on arresting undocumented immigrants regardless of the cost for everyone's civil rights and public safety. 
The War on Marijuana Has a Latino Data Problem

The War on Marijuana Has a Latino Data Problem

By Lynda Garcia, Soros Fellow, Criminal Law Reform Project, ACLU at 11:49am

We know that the War on Marijuana unnecessarily drags hundreds of thousands of people into the criminal justice system every year for having marijuana. And, because of a new ACLU report, we know that it is Blacks who are disproportionately arrested–…

SPOT Off

SPOT Off

By Jay Stanley, Senior Policy Analyst, ACLU Speech, Privacy & Technology Project at 3:58pm

Lost in all the news about the NSA program this week was the release of a devastating report by the DHS Inspector General on the TSA’s SPOT program (first reported by the New York Times on Sunday). The new report underscores what a waste of money that program has been. After hiring 2,800 full-time staff and spending an estimated $878 million since FY 2007, the program remains deeply misguided not only in its very concept, but also in how it has been implemented.

SPOT (which stands for Screening of Passengers by Observation Techniques) is the program that places “Behavior Detection Officers” (BDOs) near airport security lines, where by intrusively chatting with fliers, they will supposedly be able to detect “something amiss” that might suggest a passenger is planning a terrorist attack.

The program has always been ludicrous. In testimony at a 2011 congressional hearing on SPOT, psychologist Dr. Maria Hartwig summarized the decades of empirical research on the detection of deception, which is basically

End the Numbers Game: Police Should Not Be Rewarded for Making Marijuana Arrests

End the Numbers Game: Police Should Not Be Rewarded for Making Marijuana Arrests

By Ezekiel Edwards, Director, ACLU Criminal Law Reform Project & Vanita Gupta, Center for Justice at 1:40pm

Every 37 seconds, another person is needlessly ensnared in the criminal justice system just for having marijuana...

14-Year-Old Arrested for Playing with Puppy While Black. Seriously.

14-Year-Old Arrested for Playing with Puppy While Black. Seriously.

By Rebecca McCray, ACLU Criminal Law Reform Project at 3:09pm

Last week down in Florida, 14-year-old Tremaine McMillian was playing in the water with a friend at the beach when a Miami-Dade police officer approached him to ask what he was doing, misinterpreting their play for a fight. Tremaine walked away from…

"Joe's Law" Gets the Boot: A Lawyer for the Plaintiffs Explains

"Joe's Law" Gets the Boot: A Lawyer for the Plaintiffs Explains

By Andre Segura, Immigrants' Rights Project at 10:13am

Plaintiffs have established that the MCSO had sufficient intent to discriminate against Latino occupants of motor vehicles. Further, the Court concludes that the MCSO had and continues to have a facially discriminatory policy of considering…

Want to Restore Fairness to the Criminal Justice System? End Racial Profiling

Want to Restore Fairness to the Criminal Justice System? End Racial Profiling

By Alex Berger, Legislative Assistant, ACLU at 3:35pm

Just over a year ago, the Senate Judiciary Committee held its first hearing on racial profiling in over a decade on the heels of the murder of 17-year-old Florida resident Trayvon Martin.

His death gave a face to the terrible practice of racial…

The Constitution Applies When the Government Bans Americans From the Skies

The Constitution Applies When the Government Bans Americans From the Skies

By Nusrat Choudhury, Staff Attorney, ACLU Racial Justice Program & Hina Shamsi, Director, ACLU National Security Project at 2:58pm

The government does not have the unchecked authority to place individuals on a secret blacklist without providing them any meaningful...

Shhhh – What The FBI Doesn’t Want You to Know About its Racial Profiling Program

Shhhh – What The FBI Doesn’t Want You to Know About its Racial Profiling Program

By Nusrat Choudhury, Staff Attorney, ACLU Racial Justice Program at 12:40pm

The FBI is using a racial and ethnic mapping program to collect intelligence on American communities...

7 Year-Old Boy Handcuffed for $5 'Robbery'

7 Year-Old Boy Handcuffed for $5 'Robbery'

By Alison Silveira, Paralegal, Racial Justice Program, ACLU at 3:01pm

Five dollars is apparently all it takes to land a 7-year-old in handcuffs in a New York City public school these days.

Parents across New York City awoke Wednesday morning to the news that Bronx third-grader Wilson Reyes was pulled out of class,…

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