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Criminal Justice

The Bill of Rights protects us against suspicionless searches and seizures. It guarantees due process to individuals who are accused of crimes and humane treatment to those who are incarcerated. The ACLU works to ensure that our criminal justice system indeed is just.

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Washington Needs Bail Reform:  No Money, No Freedom

Topic Resources

News Release, Published: 
Friday, February 13, 2015

The ACLU-WA is deeply concerned about this very disturbing incident.  Fleeing from police and not following an officer’s command should not be sufficient for a person to get shot.  Lethal force should be used only as an absolute last resort. 

Monday, January 12, 2015
This op-ed first appeared in the Opinion section of the Seattle Times.  As medical marijuana heads back to Olympia, legislators are bracing for a rerun of last session’s drama of makeshift dispensary operators and self-appointed patient advocates decrying any effort to rein in abuses of the law.
News Release, Published: 
Friday, November 7, 2014

Alison Holcomb, ACLU-WA criminal justice director, has been tapped to serve as the national director of the ACLU Campaign to End Mass Incarceration. Bolstered by a $50 million grant from the Open Society Foundations, the campaign seeks to reform state-level criminal justice policies that have increased incarceration rates dramatically during a period of declining crime and have exacerbated racial disparities.

News Release, Published: 
Wednesday, October 15, 2014

The ACLU of Washington today released a letter sent to Burien officials urging the repeal of a recently adopted law targeting the homeless. In the attached letter, the ACLU explains the ordinance is unconstitutionally vague and overly broad, and invites arbitrary enforcement.

News Release, Published: 
Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Floyd Jones, a stockbroker and active philanthropist in Seattle, has established a $10 million endowment to support work to transform the criminal justice system, the ACLU of Washington announced today.  The gift creating the Floyd and Delores Jones Transformational Fund for Justice is the largest the ACLU-WA has ever received.

News Release, Published: 
Friday, October 3, 2014

People with mental health disabilities are experiencing lengthy delays in receiving court-ordered competency evaluation and restoration services in criminal cases. The ACLU of Washington, Disability Rights Washington, and allies are seeking an injunction to protect their due process rights.  They should not be warehoused in jail while their conditions deteriorate. 

News Release, Published: 
Thursday, August 7, 2014

The Washington State Supreme Court has ruled unanimously that warehousing individuals with mental illness in hospital emergency rooms where they do not get the mental health treatment they need violates state law.

News Release, Published: 
Wednesday, July 30, 2014

On July 25, Huy and a coalition anchored by the National Congress of American Indians, Native American Rights Fund and American Civil Liberties Union, decried the United States’ violations of American indigenous prisoners’ religious freedoms, to the United Nations Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (CERD).

Wednesday, May 28, 2014
A terrific article in the New York Times calls out government officials for using detained immigrants as extremely cheap labor at federal detention centers. For performing such essential tasks as preparing meals, scrubbing bathrooms, and buffing hallways, the jailed workers are paid all of 13 cents an hour (i.e., a dollar a day) – far less than the federal minimum wage of $7.25/hour that would be paid to contractors.
Monday, May 12, 2014
Assurances about lethal injection rest on the premise that inmates are sedated and unconscious before other excruciating drugs are administered. The horrifying experiences of recent executions make clear these assurances are false. The drugs used in recent executions produced not a sleep into death but many wakeful minutes of struggle and pain. Such executions are clear violations of the Eighth Amendment's prohibition on cruel and unusual punishment and require investigation and action.