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This Week in Civil Liberties (05/31/2013)

Rekha Arulanantham,
Litigation Fellow,
ACLU National Prison Project
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May 31, 2013

In which state did the ACLU file a lawsuit challenging dangerous and abusive conditions in a private prison?

Which house of the legislature will consider the immigration reform bill proposed last month?

Which social media platform is reviewing its hate speech policy in an effort to balance respect for free speech and pressure to censure misogynistic material?

Women of what ethnicities are unfairly targeted by an Arizona anti-abortion law?

What group of veterans is often not remembered on Memorial Day?

NEW LAWSUIT: Massive Human Rights Violations at Mississippi Prison

Yesterday, the American Civil Liberties Union, the Southern Poverty Law Center, and the Law Offices of Elizabeth Alexander filed a federal lawsuit on behalf of prisoners at East Mississippi Correctional Facility (EMCF). EMCF is a cesspool. Prisoners are underfed and often held in rat-infested cells without working toilets or lights. The prison is dangerously understaffed, and prisoners routinely set fires to attract the attention of officers to respond to emergencies. Without sufficient staff to protect prisoners, rapes, beatings, and stabbings are rampant. And some of the most sadistic violence is inflicted on prisoners by security staff.

Immigration Reform: Where Things Stand Now and What’s Next

As the immigration reform bill that has emerged from the Senate Judiciary Committee moves to the full Senate for further consideration next week, we can find clues of upcoming changes in what just occurred in the Committee. Dozens of amendments were withdrawn before they could be voted upon – many of them will return on the floor where the numbers are less certain and more malleable. There will be attempts to further narrow the breadth of the path to citizenship – some will want to exclude those with minor offenses. But rest assured that the fight will continue to broaden the reach of the bill, too.

Should Facebook Censor Misogynistic Material?

The New York Times ran an article this week about pressure that is mounting on Facebook to censor websites full of awful misogynistic material. The company said it was reviewing its processes for dealing with content under its hate speech policy.

As free speech and internet freedom advocates, what are we to make of this story? It seems that part of the ambiguity that arises in these cases is that there are two separate, incommensurable frames or paradigms through which we can interpret the situation.

Reproductive Health Restrictions Hurt Asian-American Women

The American Civil Liberties Union and the ACLU of Arizona filed a lawsuit this week on behalf of the NAACP of Maricopa County and the National Asian Pacific American Women’s Forum (NAPAWF) challenging a state law that relies on harmful racial stereotypes to shame and discriminate against Black and Asian and Pacific Islander (API) women who decide to end their pregnancies.

Remembering Executed Veterans

Memorial Day is over, with its picnics, parades, and poignant remembrances of the veterans who gave their lives in America’s wars. But there is one group of vets few want to remember: the ones who went to war, came back tragically changed, committed a crime and were executed.

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