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Archive for the ‘American Civil Liberties Union’ Category

Report Finds NSA Surveillance Harming Journalism and Law

July 29, 2014 Comments off

Report Finds NSA Surveillance Harming Journalism and Law
Source: ACLU and Human Rights Watch

Large-scale U.S. surveillance is seriously hampering U.S.-based journalists and lawyers in their work, the American Civil Liberties Union and Human Rights Watch said in a joint report released today. Surveillance is undermining media freedom and the right to counsel, and ultimately obstructing the American people’s ability to hold their government to account, the groups said.

The 120-page report, “With Liberty to Monitor All: How Large-Scale U.S. Surveillance is Harming Journalism, Law, and American Democracy,” is based on extensive interviews with dozens of journalists, lawyers, and senior U.S. government officials. It documents how national security journalists and lawyers are adopting elaborate steps or otherwise modifying their practices to keep communications, sources, and other confidential information secure in light of revelations of unprecedented U.S. government surveillance of electronic communications and transactions. The report finds that government surveillance and secrecy are undermining press freedom, the public’s right to information, and the right to counsel, all human rights essential to a healthy democracy.

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War Comes Home: The Excessive Militarization of American Policing

July 1, 2014 Comments off

War Comes Home: The Excessive Militarization of American Policing
Source: American Civil Liberties Union

All across the country, heavily armed SWAT teams are raiding people’s homes in the middle of the night, often just to search for drugs. It should enrage us that people have needlessly died during these raids, that pets have been shot, and that homes have been ravaged.

Our neighborhoods are not warzones, and police officers should not be treating us like wartime enemies. Any yet, every year, billions of dollars’ worth of military equipment flows from the federal government to state and local police departments. Departments use these wartime weapons in everyday policing, especially to fight the wasteful and failed drug war, which has unfairly targeted people of color.

As our new report makes clear, it’s time for American police to remember that they are supposed to protect and serve our communities, not wage war on the people who live in them.

Warehoused and Forgotten: Immigrants Trapped in Our Shadow Private Prison System

June 24, 2014 Comments off

Warehoused and Forgotten: Immigrants Trapped in Our Shadow Private Prison System
Source: American Civil Liberties Union

In rural Texas, 3,000 men are locked inside a “tent city,” sleeping in bunk beds spaced only a few feet apart. The tents are crawling with insects and the smell of broken, overflowing toilets. This is Willacy County Correctional Center: a physical symbol of everything that is wrong with enriching the private prison industry and criminalizing immigration.

More than 25,000 low-security non-U.S. citizens languish at thirteen private prisons like Willacy under Criminal Alien Requirement (CAR) contracts. For years, these for-profit prisons have been able to operate in the shadows, effectively free from public scrutiny. That ends now.

More Than 3,200 Serving Life Without Parole for Nonviolent Offenses, Finds ACLU

November 17, 2013 Comments off

More Than 3,200 Serving Life Without Parole for Nonviolent Offenses, Finds ACLU
Source: American Civil Liberties Union

In the first-ever study of people serving life without parole for nonviolent offenses in the United States, the American Civil Liberties Union found that at least 3,278 prisoners fit this category in federal and state prisons combined.

“A Living Death: Life Without Parole for Nonviolent Offenses” features key statistics about these prisoners, an analysis of the laws that produced their sentences, and case studies of 110 men and women serving these sentences. Of the 3,278 prisoners, 79 percent were convicted of nonviolent, drug-related crimes such as possession or distribution, and 20 percent of nonviolent property crimes like theft.

ACLU EYE on the FBI: Documents Reveal Lack of Privacy Safeguards and Guidance in Government’s “Suspicious Activity Report” Systems

November 12, 2013 Comments off

ACLU EYE on the FBI: Documents Reveal Lack of Privacy Safeguards and Guidance in Government’s “Suspicious Activity Report” Systems
Source: American Civil Liberties Union

Government documents obtained by the ACLU show that nationwide programs that collect so-called “Suspicious Activity Reports” provide inadequate privacy safeguards and guidance on the definition of “suspicious activity,” leading to violations of Americans’ First Amendment and privacy rights, and to racial and religious profiling.

Battle for Benefits: VA Discrimination Against Survivors of Military Sexual Trauma

November 8, 2013 Comments off

Battle for Benefits: VA Discrimination Against Survivors of Military Sexual Trauma
Source: American Civil Liberties Union, Service Women’s Action Network, Yale Law School

Sexual assault and harassment are serious problems in the United States armed forces. Thousands of service members each year are estimated to have experienced some form of military sexual trauma (MST), including rape, sexual assault, and sexual harassment.

Less well known is the second battle that many veterans who survive sexual violence must fight with the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) when they return to civilian life.

“Battle for Benefits: VA Discrimination Against Survivors of Military Sexual Trauma,” a report released by Service Women’s Action Network (SWAN), the American Civil Liberties Union Women’s Rights Project (ACLU), and the American Civil Liberties Union of Connecticut (ACLU-CT), with assistance by the Yale Law School Veterans Legal Services Clinic, reveals that the process of obtaining VA disability benefits for the enduring mental health effects of military sexual trauma (MST) is an unfair fight in which veterans are often unsuccessful. Veterans who survive in-service sexual trauma face discrimination in seeking compensation.

Protecting the Rights of Transgender Parents and Their Children: A Guide for Parents and Lawyers

October 29, 2013 Comments off

Protecting the Rights of Transgender Parents and Their Children: A Guide for Parents and Lawyers (PDF)
Source: American Civil Liberties Union

More and more transgender parents are fighting to protect their relationships with their children in the face of custody challenges. Yet they face significant obstacles. Parents who have come out or transitioned after having a child with a spouse or partner have seen their gender transition raised as a basis to deny or restrict child custody or visitation. Transgender people who formed families after coming out or transitioning have faced challenges to their legal status as parents, often based on attacks on the validity of their marriages.

Many transgender people have and raise children without encountering legal challenges to their fitness or legal status as a parent. However, such challenges are still all too common. And many parents have been treated terribly by the courts because judges have a limited understanding of what it means to be transgender and they have very little—and inconsistent—case law to guide them.

The purpose of this guide is to provide information to transgender parents and their attorneys to help them protect parent-child relationships and assist them when faced with disputes over child custody issues.

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