Washington Markup

Millions Severed From the Body Politic

Millions Severed From the Body Politic

By Deborah J. Vagins, ACLU Washington Legislative Office at 2:43pm
This year marks the 50th anniversary of the Bloody Sunday march for voting rights and the passage of the Voting Rights Act.  In this historic year, as we work to strengthen and update the law that protects voters of color at the polls, it is important to remember another ongoing denial of this most fundamental right. An estimated 5.85 million citizens cannot vote as a result of criminal convictions. Nearly 4.4 million of those have been released from prison and are living and working in our communities, yet they are denied a political voice. 
Can You Think of a Better Way to Spend $7.2 Billion Than Unnecessarily Locking Up Nonviolent Offenders and Undocumented Immigrants?

Can You Think of a Better Way to Spend $7.2 Billion Than Unnecessarily Locking Up Nonviolent Offenders and Undocumented Immigrants?

By Jesselyn McCurdy, ACLU Washington Legislative Office at 11:16am

The Department of Justice spends $7.2 billion a year to incarcerate over 209,000 people in the federal Bureau of Prisons at a cost of over $30,000 per year per person.

This is unsustainable, both morally and economically.

The majority…

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…

How to Save $24 Billion and Fix Our Broken Justice System

How to Save $24 Billion and Fix Our Broken Justice System

By Meghan Groob, Media Strategist, ACLU Washington Legislative Office at 1:19pm

Here's a hypothetical for you: Someone approaches you on the street and offers you a big stack of cash with no strings attached. Do you take it?

Of course you do.

As much as we'd like to pretend otherwise, money matters. And that's…

"I’ll Never See My Son's Prom Picture"

"I’ll Never See My Son's Prom Picture"

By Alex Berger, Legislative Assistant, ACLU at 3:00pm

Lucille MacBeth, mother of slain Florida teen Jordan Russell Davis, did all she could to keep from crying during her testimony in front of the Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on the Constitution earlier this week. After nearly five minutes of testimony,…

Congress Could Save Tens of Thousands of Americans Today. Here's How.

Congress Could Save Tens of Thousands of Americans Today. Here's How.

By Alex Berger, Legislative Assistant, ACLU at 3:10pm

"Too many Americans go to too many prisons for too long for no good law enforcement reason."

That's what Attorney General Eric Holder said in an historic speech before the American Bar Association earlier this year. He was talking about people…

The 1980s Called. They Want Their Mandatory Minimums Back.

The 1980s Called. They Want Their Mandatory Minimums Back.

By Jesselyn McCurdy, ACLU Washington Legislative Office & Sarah Solon, Communications Strategist, ACLU at 2:27pm

Senator Leahy closed this morning’s Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on mandatory minimums by asking everyone in the room with a loved one serving a mandatory minimum to stand up. The whole audience stood.

This was a poignant display of…

Washington Gives Us Something to Get Excited About (No, Really!)

Washington Gives Us Something to Get Excited About (No, Really!)

By Jesselyn McCurdy, ACLU Washington Legislative Office at 2:35pm

If you care about criminal justice reform, you're coming off a really good month in Washington. Don't believe me? Here's what you have to get excited about:

The U.S. Sentencing Commission released its preliminary report on the effectiveness…
U.S. Conference of Mayors Takes on HIV Criminalization

U.S. Conference of Mayors Takes on HIV Criminalization

By Steven Waddy, Legislative Assistant, ACLU at 9:56am

The REPEAL Act gained more influential supporters on Tuesday when the U.S. Conference of Mayors endorsed the bill. The REPEAL Act, sponsored by Reps. Barbara Lee (D-CA) and Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL), represents a bipartisan effort to provide incentives…

Congress Gets to Work on Overincarceration

Congress Gets to Work on Overincarceration

By Alex Berger, Legislative Assistant, ACLU at 3:39pm

Last month, Congressmen Sensenbrenner and other members of the House Judiciary Committee announced a task force to address the ever increasing scope and breathe of the federal criminal system. This news drew cheers from activists, policy wonks and…