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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.

Logo of the ACLU Campaign for Smart Justice
Washington Needs Bail Reform:  No Money, No Freedom
Driven to Fail: Exposing the costs & ineffectiveness of Washington's most commonly charged crime

Topic Resources

News Release, Published: 
Friday, April 3, 2015
A federal judge has rebuked the State of Washington and ordered it to provide competency services speedily to people with mental illness in jails. The ruling came in a suit on behalf of incarcerated pre-trial detainees who have sat for weeks and months awaiting court-ordered services.
Published: 
Monday, March 23, 2015
How do you turn $41 into over $2,000?  Courts across Washington and throughout the U.S. have figured out how to turn small fines for routine traffic violations and other non-violent infractions into major debts for individuals without the means to pay.  HBO’s “Last Week Tonight” with John Oliver recently examined this subject, noting the ways in which differences in race and income levels are creating two justice systems: one for the rich and one for the poor.
News Release, Published: 
Monday, March 16, 2015
Under state law, whenever there is reason to doubt that individuals with mental disabilities is competent to stand trial, the court must order an evaluation by one of the state mental hospitals to determine competency and treat these individuals.  If competency is restored, the criminal case may proceed; if it is not restored, the criminal charges are dismissed.
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. 
Published: 
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.

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