Prison Reformer Bronstein Called Ahead Of His Time

Alvin Bronstein, the late director of the American Civil Liberties Union’s National Prison Project, anticipated the movement to reduce “mass incarceration” that is widely discussed in today’s criminal justice circles, former colleagues and friends were told at a memorial service yesterday in Washington, D.C. Bronstein, who filed many lawsuits contesting prison conditions in the 1970s, 1980s and 1990s, had a “perpetual sense of outrage” about the “lock ’em up and throw away the key” culture that dominated public policy at […]


The Long Wait for Justice

Hundreds of criminal defendants declared incompetent to stand trial are sitting in county jails around California awaiting transfer to state facilities for mental health treatment. By law these defendants must receive treatment within 35 days. But an American Civil Liberties (ACLU) lawsuit filed against the state says many vulnerable inmates languish in jail, sometimes for as long as a year. “Jail is simply too dangerous a place for these most vulnerable defendants,” says Micaela Davis, one of the ACLU's lead […]

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What was the BOP Doing in Afghanistan?

Did the federal Bureau of Prisons (BOP) approve and possibly help design Afghanistan’s notorious “Salt Pit,” which was used by U.S. intelligence operatives to detain and torture suspected terrorists?


Do Cops Really Need Mine Resistant Vehicles to Keep Us Safe?

The militarized law enforcement response to peaceful protests over the killing of an unarmed black man in Ferguson, Mo. last month, has prompted several federal officials to question the use of military weapons and tactics by local law enforcement, and the federal programs that fuel it. They aren't the only ones who are skeptical. In some cities and counties, officials and the public are resisting, and even reversing, the militarization of their police. Recently, for example, the City Council of […]


ACLU Report: SWAT ‘Has Become Commonplace’

The use of militaristic Special Weapons and Tactics (SWAT) deployments for local police search warrants “has become commonplace,” according to a new report by the American Civil Liberties Union, an advocacy group. Researchers examined more than 800 SWAT raids in 20 states and found that 79 percent were to serve a search warrant for an individual's home. Though SWAT raids are commonly associated with police response to potentially violent situations, the report found that, “only a small handful of deployments […]


ACLU: Women in Solitary Face ‘Unique Harms’

A new American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) policy brief calls for solitary confinement policies in women's prisons to account for key differences between males and females. The brief notes that a higher percentage of women than men face prison for non-violent crimes and imprisoned women are more likely to suffer from serious mental illness. Studies have shown that solitary confinement can exacerbate an inmate's mental health issues, but “the unique harms and dangers of subjecting women prisoners to this practice […]


How New York City Really Reduced Mass Incarceration

In a report recently published by the Brennan Center for Justice, two nationally renowned criminologists examined the connection between arrest rates in New York City and the state's overall correctional populations. The report, How New York City Reduced Mass Incarceration: A Model for Change?, makes two essential findings: (1) A reduction in felony arrests in New York City over the course of the last 10-15 years caused a dramatic reduction in state-wide prison, jail, probation, and parole populations without increasing […]


It's Time to Address Federal Prison Overcrowding

The most expensive presidential election in history is over. In a campaign dominated by the economy, criminal justice issues played literally no role in either candidate's campaign. From a political point of view, ignoring criminal justice issues was the right way to go. According to a Gallup Poll conducted this fall, less than one percent of Americans believed crime was the nation’s most pressing problem. There is no question that violent crime has fallen over the last decade and a […]


Will the President Heed the Call For Justice Reform?

Last week, Americans in several states came out in droves to show historic support for criminal justice reform at the ballot box. A progressive ideological shift in our approach to harsh criminal justice policies has gained momentum in recent years, and this year's election revealed a desire to put that ideology into practice. By coming out to support marijuana legalization in Colorado and Washington, medical marijuana in Massachusetts, revising California's three strikes law, and liberating New Mexico's Public Defender system […]