Washington Markup

The First Step to Fix a Broken Prison? Set the Record Straight

The First Step to Fix a Broken Prison? Set the Record Straight

By Gabriel Eber, ACLU National Prison Project & Margaret Winter, National Prison Project at 11:53am
Over the last couple weeks, we've been talking a lot about East Mississippi Correctional Facility, a violent and dangerously understaffed prison where patients with severe mental illnesses go without basic mental health care and many prisoners cut themselves or attempt suicide. The ACLU, Southern Poverty Law Center, and Law Offices of Elizabeth Alexander recently filed a class action lawsuit on behalf of the more than 1,100 prisoners confined at EMCF.
Senate Hearing Explores the Exorbitant Costs of Incarceration

Senate Hearing Explores the Exorbitant Costs of Incarceration

By Dan Zeidman, ACLU Washington Legislative Office at 5:51pm

Over the last 30 years, the population of the federal prison system has increased exponentially – nearly 800 percent – largely due to the overrepresentation of those convicted of drug offenses, many of whom are low-level and non-violent.…

New Federal Standards Offer Unprecedented Protections to LGBTI Prisoners

New Federal Standards Offer Unprecedented Protections to LGBTI Prisoners

By Leslie Cooper, LGBT Project at 2:25pm

Yesterday the Department of Justice (DOJ) released the long-awaited National Standards to Prevent, Detect, and Respond to Prison Rape. These standards – the first of their kind—create an historic opportunity to put an end to the epidemic of sexual abuse in prison, which disproportionately affects prisoners who are lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender or have intersex conditions (LGBTI).

PREA Rule: DOJ Takes First Steps to Protect Prison Rape Victims

PREA Rule: DOJ Takes First Steps to Protect Prison Rape Victims

By Amy Fettig, ACLU National Prison Project at 12:05pm

Last Thursday’s release of the long-delayed national Prison Rape Elimination Act (PREA) regulations by the Department of Justice reminds us of the hundreds of prison rape victims we’ve heard from over the years who could not seek justice because the prison officials who failed to protect them were essentially immunized from liability by a 1996 federal law, the Prison Litigation Reform Act (PLRA). The announced purpose of the PLRA was to curb the filing of frivolous litigation by prisoners. In reality, the law makes it

Needed in Immigration Overhaul: Counsel and Alternatives to Incarceration

Needed in Immigration Overhaul: Counsel and Alternatives to Incarceration

By Kimberly Humphrey, Washington Legislative Office at 12:13pm

Imagine that you are a lawful resident married to a U.S. citizen serviceman who is deployed overseas, and you are looking for a job to help support your family. You find one, but unbeknownst to you, your employer, aiming to expedite the hiring process,…

One Year Longer?  Why Won’t DHS Protect Its Detainees under the Prison Rape Elimination Act Right Now?

One Year Longer? Why Won’t DHS Protect Its Detainees under the Prison Rape Elimination Act Right Now?

By Chris Rickerd, ACLU Washington Legislative Office at 1:18pm

The Prison Rape Elimination Act was passed by a unanimous Congress in 2003, with regulations due by June 2010. It was clearly intended to cover all detainees, civil and criminal. Two years later, the Obama administration at last released the final implementing rules for PREA. Commendably, the Department of Justice reversed its prior position that PREA doesn’t cover all immigration detainees. Yet the Department of Homeland Security – despite an abysmal track record of preventing and investigating sexual abuse and assault in its facilities, which was recently exposed on PBS’s Frontline – got a 360-day extension on PREA compliance.

Ending Solitary Confinement – The Dangers of Isolation for LGBTI Prisoners and Detainees

Ending Solitary Confinement – The Dangers of Isolation for LGBTI Prisoners and Detainees

By Patrick DePoy, ACLU Washington Legislative Office at 3:33pm

Recently, the Senate Judiciary Committee’s Constitution Subcommittee held a landmark hearing on solitary confinement.  The goal of the hearing was to comprehensively examine and reassess the overuse of solitary confinement in federal and…

Battling Prison Rape: Immigration Detainees Deserve Protection, Too

Battling Prison Rape: Immigration Detainees Deserve Protection, Too

By Joanne Lin, Washington Legislative Office at 3:02pm

Excluding immigration detention from prison rape standards that prevent, detect and respond to sexual assault in custody is unjustifiable and unconscionable.

The Administration Must Act: Immigrants in Detention Deserve Equal Protection from Sexual Abuse

The Administration Must Act: Immigrants in Detention Deserve Equal Protection from Sexual Abuse

By Sandhya Bathija, Washington Legislative Office at 6:14pm

In 2009, Claudia Leiva Deras, a domestic violence survivor who is now a lawful U.S. resident, was held in immigration detention at the Cass County Jail in Plattsmouth, Neb. While Claudia waited there for the outcome of her immigration hearing,…

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…