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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: 
Thursday, December 5, 2013
December 5, 2013 In a resounding ruling for fairness in the criminal justice system, the U.S. District Court in Seattle has found that the public defense system of Mt. Vernon and Burlington deprives indigent persons who face misdemeanor criminal charges of their fundamental right to assistance of counsel.
Tuesday, November 26, 2013
The extraordinary expense of Washington’s death penalty cases was in the news again this month, with taxpayers on the hook for most of the cost.
Friday, September 20, 2013
The federal government’s recent positive response to marijuana legalization in Washington and Colorado seems a far and contradictory cry from their enforcement policy on federal grounds.
Thursday, July 18, 2013
The Sixth Amendment to the United States Constitution guarantees every person the right to a fair trial.  However, if the prosecution is making racist remarks and presenting racially-charged evidence throughout the trial, this right is violated.
Wednesday, June 12, 2013
The Seattle City Council voted unanimously to enact a law that would prevent employers from automatically rejecting any applicant with a criminal record.  The goal of the bill, sponsored by Councilmember Bruce Harrell, is to reduce the long-term effects of a criminal record by allowing applicants to be considered on their merits before being denied simply because of a record.
News Release, Published: 
Tuesday, June 11, 2013
A landmark lawsuit to ensure fairness for the accused in Grant County has concluded with major improvements in the county’s felony indigent defense system. The suit wrapped up in April after seven years of court-ordered monitoring – the first time a county public defense system in Washington had undergone such comprehensive oversight. The suit was brought by the ACLU of Washington and Columbia Legal Services.
Friday, May 31, 2013
When people are convicted of a crime, they expect to be sentenced to jail time or probation.  But there are other long-lasting consequences – and these can be unfair and counter-productive.