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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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Driven to Fail: Exposing the costs & ineffectiveness of Washington's most commonly charged crime
The death penalty is arbitrary, unfair, and racially biased.  The ACLU of Washington argued before the Washington Supreme Court to end it.


Wednesday, January 4, 2012
By the time they’re 23 years old, between 30 and 41 percent of Americans have been arrested, according to a study recently released by the journal Pediatrics.  This number has sharply increased in recent decades; in the mid-1960s, only 22 percent of Americans reported having been arrested by the time they turned 23.
Tuesday, October 11, 2011
Over ten years ago, during a protest, Janet was arrested for trespassing, convicted, and sentenced to 20 hours of community service. She has committed no crimes since then. But, like many Americans, Janet is now looking for a job, and her criminal record is proving an obstacle.
Wednesday, October 5, 2011
The United States Supreme Court soon is going to consider a case involving warrantless use of a GPS tracking device, in a case the New York Times has called “the most important Fourth Amendment case in a decade.”
Friday, September 16, 2011
As flu season approaches, Washingtonians should be thankful that they can still purchase the highly effective decongestant pseudoephedrine over the counter and don’t need to get a prescription (which some states now require). However, they should also be somewhat disgruntled that they must now have their personal information (name, address, amount purchased) submitted into a newly created database that will track their purchases. Since 2005, paper logs had to be maintained for pseudoephedrine sales in Washington, but there was no centrally housed electronic database.
News Release, Published: 
Monday, July 25, 2011
Personal mail to inmates at Spokane County Jail will no longer be limited to postcards, under terms of the settlement of a lawsuit filed by the publication Prison Legal News. The ACLU-WA filed a brief in the suit, explaining that the restrictive policy violated the rights of both inmates and individuals who correspond with them.
News Release, Published: 
Friday, July 15, 2011
Pierce County Jail inmates filed a class action lawsuit on September 20, 2010 challenging jail officials’ illegal treatment of Muslim inmates. As the suit alleges, jail officials routinely treat Muslim prisoners worse than others when it comes to accommodating religious dietary needs, allowing for group prayer, and providing access to religious resources.  The jail also operates a special unit known as the “God Pod,” where Christian inmates enjoy housing and programming privileges that are denied to prisoners of other faiths. 
Wednesday, June 29, 2011
It is a fundamental principle of a democratic society that public employees should be held accountable for their actions. In May, a Seattle arbitrator undermined that principle by ruling that the City of Seattle’s contract with the Seattle Police Officers’ Guild requires the city to withhold the names of police officers who were disciplined for misconduct. Thankfully, City Attorney Pete Holmes has decided to challenge this decision and is fighting to keep this information public.
Friday, June 10, 2011
In a case (State v. Monday) that drew front-page coverage in today’s Seattle Times, the Washington Supreme Court has issued a strong ruling that racist comments by a prosecutor undermine the fundamental right to a fair trial.
Friday, April 8, 2011
Let’s be clear:Senate Bill 5073, the medical marijuana legislation moving through the state legislature, isn’t perfect.  Different stakeholders with different motivations have made a lot of changes to it along the way. It’s no one’s ideal bill.
Friday, April 1, 2011
Last December, the ACLU of Washington and 34 community organizations sent a letter to the Department of Justice asking for an investigation of the Seattle Police Department after a string of troubling incidents involving unnecessary or excessive use of force by officers.  On March 31 we received an answer: DOJ is coming to Seattle.  The move came after a preliminary inquiry in Seattle determined that a full-scale investigation is warranted.