Tag Archives | ACLU

ACLU Awarded $50 Million by Open Society Foundations to End Mass Incarceration

Kate Ter Haar (CC BY 2.0)

Kate Ter Haar (CC BY 2.0)

via Don’t Comply:

The Open Society Foundations today awarded a grant of $50 million to the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) in support of its nationwide campaign to end mass incarceration. The campaign seeks to reform criminal justice policies that have increased incarceration rates dramatically during a period of declining crime —and exacerbated racial disparities. The nation’s adult jail and prison population numbers over 2.2 million with one in 100 adults behind bars, the highest incarceration rate in the world. The ACLU intends to cut that number in half by 2020, with the most ambitious effort to end mass incarceration in American history.

“Reducing our nation’s prison population by 50 percent may sound like a lofty goal. But Americans are recognizing that we can’t arrest our way out of every social problem and, in fact, the overuse of our criminal justice system has been making matters worse,” said ACLU Executive Director Anthony D.

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Insane Clown Posse and the ACLU Case Dismissed Against FBI

I bet you never expected the ACLU and Insane Clown Posse (ICP) to join forces, but it’s true! Back in January, the American Civil Liberties Union of Michigan teamed up to file a lawsuit against the FBI, who in 2011, classified Juggalos (fans of ICP) a hybrid gang.

Juggalo Jerry and a helper check out the sound board. (by Jake Metcalf)

Juggalo Jerry and a helper check out the sound board. (by Jake Metcalf)

via ACLU.org:

DETROIT – The American Civil Liberties Union of Michigan, along with the Detroit music duo Insane Clown Posse (ICP), filed a federal lawsuit today on behalf of Juggalos, or fans of ICP, claiming that their constitutional rights to expression and association were violated when the U.S. government wrongly and arbitrarily classified the entire fan base as a “hybrid” criminal gang. The lawsuit was filed on behalf of four Juggalos and the two members of ICP.

“The Juggalos are fighting for the basic American right to freely express who they are, to gather and share their appreciation of music, and to discuss issues that are important to them without fear of being unfairly targeted and harassed by police,” said Michael J.

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Life in Prison for Shoplifting Under 3 Strikes Law | Brainwash Update

Abby Martin remarks on a recent ACLU report highlighting the shockingly high number of people serving life sentences without parole for non-violent crime, calling out state laws that leave judges without options when setting these mandatory sentences.

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Yes, Big Brother Is Watching You

William Binney, former NSA analyst, sits in the offices of Democracy Now! in New York City during a 2012 discussion about the federal government and their access to citizens' private information. (Jacob Applebaum / Wikimedia Commons)

William Binney, former NSA analyst, sits in the offices of Democracy Now! in New York City during a 2012 discussion about the federal government and their access to citizens’ private information.
(Jacob Applebaum / Wikimedia Commons)

It’s been a frightening few weeks for journalists concerned with protecting their sources—and for Americans concerned with protecting their privacy. On May 13, the Associated Press revealed that the Justice Department secretly obtained two months of reporters’ call logs. Citing the Espionage Act, which prohibits the disclosure of classified information, the Justice Department had subpoenaed Verizon Wireless for the call logs of more than 20 AP phone lines. Within a week The Washington Post reported that in 2010 the DOJ had subpoenaed emails from Fox News’ chief Washington correspondent James Rosen’s personal Gmail, also with the motive of prosecuting leakers.

The revelations have caused a furor over whether national security interests should trump civil liberties.… Read the rest

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ACLU Uncovers Illegal Debtors’ Prisons Across Ohio

debtors' prison

Despite being blatantly unconstitutional, citizens are commonly being jailed for their inability to pay tickets and fines, wreaking havoc on people’s lives (and costing the state far greater sums than the unpaid tickets), ACLU Ohio reveals:

The resurgence of contemporary debtors’ prisons sits squarely at this intersection of poverty and criminal justice. In towns across the state, thousands of people face the looming specter of incarceration every day, simply because they are poor.

For Ohio’s poor and working poor, an unaffordable traffic ticket or fine is just the beginning of a protracted process that may involve contempt charges, mounting fees, arrest warrants, and even jail time. The stark reality is that, in 2013, Ohioans are being repeatedly jailed simply for being too poor to pay fines.

The U.S. Constitution, the Ohio Constitution, and Ohio Revised Code all prohibit debtors’ prisons. The law requires that, before jailing anyone for unpaid fines, courts must determine whether an individual is too poor to pay.

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Canadian Leading Charge Against Obama’s Drone War

A Canadian is doing what no American can risk: The fight against Barack Obama’s program of global, targeting killings has fallen to an attorney from Toronto, reports the CBC. Jameel Jaffer, a staff attorney with the American Civil Liberties Union, is a Canadian citizen who got his start working on Wall Street for a firm that represented equities traders. After 9/11, Jaffer started to volunteer for the ACLU representing fellow immigrants rounded-up by federal law enforcement. He went on to take a full-time job with the group and ended up leading the ACLU’s legal challenges to Obama’s program of killing suspected enemies of the state. According to the CBC, Jaffer’s motivation is a fear that Obama will eventually turn the drone program against Canada and order Hellfire missiles to rain  down on Canadian towns and cities –

But he also warns that countries including Canada should pay close attention to the policies being created in the United States to govern drone strikes.

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Ordering A Pizza In The Panopticon

How much of the ACLU's prescient 2004 short film Ordering Pizza, which envisions ordering a pizza online in a future dystopian electronic surveillance state, has is already starting to come true? Getting takeout has never been so traumatic:
We are facing a flood of powerful new technologies that expand the potential for centralized monitoring, an executive branch aggressively seeking new powers to spy on citizens, a docile Congress and courts, as well as a cadre of mega-corporations that are willing to become extensions of the surveillance state. We confront the possibility of a dark future where our every move, our every transaction, our every communication is recorded, compiled, and stored away, ready for access by the authorities whenever they want.
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ACLU Lawsuit Uncovers Records of Boston Police Department’s Intel Efforts Against Peace Orgs

Via CopBlock: Says the Massachusetts ACLU:
We now have proof of what peace groups and activists have long suspected: Boston Police officers have worked within the local fusion spying center, the Boston Regional Intelligence Center (BRIC), to monitor the lawful political activity of local peace groups and track their movements and beliefs. This information has been retained in searchable electronic "intelligence" reports bearing labels such as "Groups - Civil Disturbance," "Groups--Extremists," "HomeSec-Domestic" under the heading "Criminal Act."
Looks like those "fusion centers" are indeed the hotbeds of misinformation and civil rights suppression that most of us - including the Senate - assumed that they were. Read a complete rundown of what the ACLU discovered here.
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ACLU Phone App Lets You Secretly Record Police Interactions

An adorable animation unveiling the ACLU's free Police Tape app, available initially for Android and soon for iOS. You too can be a watchdog!
Citizens can hold police accountable in the palms of their hands with "Police Tape," a smartphone application from the ACLU of New Jersey that allows people to securely record and store interactions with police, as well as provide legal information about citizens' rights when interacting with the police.
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Ron Paul Scored Higher Than President Obama on the ACLU Report Card

This is embarrassing for anyone who voted for "Hope and Change" ... and the highest score goes to former New Mexico Governor Gary Johnson, who was not even allowed to debate in televised debates. So reports Bob Egelko in the San Fransisco Chronicle:
The highest overall rating went to former New Mexico Gov. Gary Johnson, a Republican-turned-Libertarian, who opposes the Patriot Act and — unlike Obama — supports the right of gays and lesbians to marry. Among the leading Republican candidates, libertarian-leaning Rep. Ron Paul also got a higher score than Obama despite low ratings in several categories.
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