Criminal Justice Icon

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.
Stop the school to prison pipeline
Washington Needs Bail Reform:  Download No Money, No Freedom
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.


Thursday, June 17, 2010
Last session, state lawmakers responded to a series of tragic police shootings by putting on the ballot a constitutional amendment to give judges expanded authority to deny bail for criminal defendants. If Washington voters approve the amendment this November, it will amend our Constitution for the first time in more than 20 years. Thanks to TV crime shows, we all more or less know what bail is—a person who has been arrested can give a certain amount of money to the court in order to be released from jail while awaiting trial. If he shows up to court as required, he gets his bail back, even if he’s eventually found guilty. If he “skips bail,” the court keeps the money. What the TV shows don’t talk about, however, is why we have a bail system in the first place. Read more
Wednesday, June 16, 2010
This is not an isolated incident. The Seattle Police Department has a long history of allowing jaywalking citations to escalate into use of force situations. The pattern is very predictable:  The officer sees a jaywalker, orders the person to come to him, gets angry when the jaywalker either doesn’t respond or argues, and ends up either in a physical confrontation or an arrest for an obstruction charge or both. Read more
Monday, June 14, 2010
Last Thursday, a new law that improves qualifying patients' access to medical marijuana went into effect.  Sponsored by Sen. Jeanne Kohl-Welles (D-36), SB 5798 expands the list of health care professionals who can authorize the medical use of cannabis under state law.  The new list includes all providers who are currently authorized to prescribe medications such as physician assistants and nurse practitioners.  Only two other states, New Mexico and Rhode Island, grant this authorization power to all health care professionals who can prescribe.  As Sen. Kohl-Welles explains, "This bill will provide real relief to those who are suffering, particularly those who live in rural areas and low-income individuals who typically see advanced nurse practitioners rather than MDs. Providing this relief honors the will of the voters who overwhelmingly approved the medical-marijuana initiative in 1998." A more detailed explanation of the law, which also includes new requirements for patients' written authorizations, can be found on Page 3 of the Summer 2010 issue of the West Coast Leaf.  Also, ACLU of Washington has updated its web page, "A Guide to Washington's Medical Marijuana Law," to reflect the changes.  The web page also includes an informational brochure that can be downloaded for printing and a revised form that health care professionals can use for authorizations.
Friday, June 11, 2010
A recent study confirms that despite a 1986 U.S. Supreme Court ruling outlawing racial bias in jury selection, the problem remains rampant in the South. But did you know that the problem has been raised repeatedly in cases in Washington State too? Read more

911 Good Samaritan Law Wallet Card

Document, Published: 
Thursday, June 10, 2010
Help save lives. Download our free wallet card to learn more about how Washington's 911 Good Samaritan Law could protect you from prosecution for drug possession when reporting an overdose.
Tuesday, June 8, 2010
The focus of investigations of gang activity should be on actual criminal acts, not on whether an individual “belongs to” a gang—the label is a distraction rather than a useful tool. Allocating our scarce law enforcement resources on the basis of whether someone looks like a gang member, rather than whether we think someone has committed a crime, virtually guarantees that we will get no closer to solving the issue of gang violence. 
Friday, June 4, 2010
With 5% of the world's population, the United States today boasts 25% of its prison population. Despite declining crime rates in the last three decades (even in the midst of our current recession), rates of incarceration in the U.S. have been stunning. The Economist recently called this trend "a disgrace."   Read more
Monday, May 17, 2010
Last Thursday, the AP ran a ground-breaking piece of investigative journalism. It spelled out how U.S. taxpayers have financed a $1 trillion "War on Drugs" that, 40 years after its launch, has failed to meet any of its declared goals. That's putting it mildly.
Friday, May 7, 2010
Check out this video of Alison Holcomb, ACLU-WA Drug Policy Director, debating the merits of the War on Drugs with renowned criminal justice Professor Mark Kleiman, WA Department of Corrections Secretary Eldon Vail, King County Superior Court Judge Wesley Saint Clair, and King County Prosecutor Mark Larson.
News Release, Published: 
Friday, April 23, 2010
The ACLU of Washington has filed an amicus brief urging the court to condemn the attorney’s conduct in State v. Kevin Monday in which a King County prosecutor made appeals to racial prejudice in a criminal jury trial.