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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
Driven to Fail: Exposing the costs & ineffectiveness of Washington's most commonly charged crime

Topic Resources

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).
Published: 
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.
Published: 
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.
News Release, Published: 
Monday, May 12, 2014
Today, the ACLU of Washington (ACLU) and Columbia Legal Services (CLS) voluntarily dismissed their lawsuit after successfully getting U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) to release hunger striking detainees from solitary confinement at the Northwest Detention Center (NWDC) in Tacoma, Washington.  The ACLU and CLS had filed this lawsuit on April 2, 2014 to prohibit ICE from retaliating against detainees at the NWDC who engage in First Amendment protected activities by placing them in solitary confinement.
News Release, Published: 
Friday, April 4, 2014
Federal immigration authorities have released hunger strikers from solitary confinement at the Northwest Detention Center in Tacoma. The action came after the ACLU-WA and Columbia Legal Services sued U.S. Immigration and Enforcement for retaliating against hunger strikers. 
News Release, Published: 
Thursday, April 3, 2014
The ACLU-WA and Columbia Legal Services are seeking a court order to prohibit federal immigration authorities from punishing  hunger strikers by confining them isolation cells at the NW Detention Center. 
Published: 
Monday, March 24, 2014
Last week we told you about the new federal data that highlights the problem of students of color and those with disabilities being systematically denied access to education by being suspended and expelled at rates 3 to 2 times higher respectively than there peers.
News Release, Published: 
Wednesday, February 19, 2014
Eileen Farley, Director of the Northwest Defenders Division of the King County Department of Public Defense, has been selected as Public Defense Supervisor for Mt. Vernon and Burlington.  The position was established by the U.S. District Court in Seattle in its December 2013 ruling that the cities’ public defense system deprives indigent persons who face misdemeanor criminal charges of their fundamental right to assistance of counsel. The court required the cities to hire a supervisor to ensure their defense system complies with constitutional standards, and the court is keeping jurisdiction over the case for three years while reforms proceed.

Modern-Day Debtors’ Prisons in Washington

Document, Published: 
Monday, February 10, 2014
The ACLU of Washington and Columbia Legal Services issued a report examining the unfair burdens court-ordered debts impose on poor people in Washington. “Modern-Day Debtors’ Prisons: The Ways Court-Imposed Debts Punish People for Being Poor” exposes a counterproductive system and calls for reform.

Report Exposes Modern-Day Debtors’ Prisons in Washington

Document, Published: 
Monday, February 10, 2014
The ACLU of Washington and Columbia Legal Services today issued a report examining the unfair burdens court-ordered debts impose on poor people in Washington. “Modern-Day Debtors’ Prisons: The Ways Court-Imposed Debts Punish People for Being Poor” exposes a counterproductive system and calls for reform.

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