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Criminal Justice

Court-Imposed Debts and the Poor: Reforming Policies for Legal Financial Obligations

The ACLU of Washington is working to ensure that no patient is refused access to lawful health care because of the religious doctrines of the institutions running hospitals, clinics, or other medical facilities. Health care facilities open to the general public should not refuse to provide reproductive health care and end-of-life care services; nor should they discriminate against LGBT patients and families. Read More »
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Quiz: Washington's mental health care system crisis

Washington’s mental health care system is in crisis. What's wrong and what can we do about it? Read More »

Cash Bail Reserves Freedom for Those Who Can Pay for It

Everyone is presumed innocent until proven guilty. But those who can’t afford cash bail must forfeit their freedom while awaiting trial. ACLU-WA asserts this unequal treatment—freedom for those with money, jail for those without— is neither fair nor effective. Read More »

ACLU Says Everett’s Panhandling Law Punishes Free Speech by Poor People

The ACLU-WA says that Everett’s revised panhandling law is unconstitutional, ineffective, and unnecessarily punitive. Instead of having criminal penalties for free speech, the City should provide social services that address the causes of homelessness. Read More »

Seattle’s New Crime Analytics Program Threatens to Perpetuate Racism in Policing

The Seattle Police Department (SPD) has announced a new “Real Time Crime Center” that would use historical crime data in decisions about deploying police officers. Although this may sound like a smart move to incorporate analytics technology in law enforcement, in practice it would perpetuate existing institutional racism in policing. Read More »
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Funding the Criminal Justice System on the Backs of the Poor: ACLU Sues Benton County for Operating Debtors’ Prison

After struggling with addiction and mental illness, Jayne Fuentes served her time, found a job and got her life back on track. She’s been sober and crime-free for three years, but one thing still dogs her: fear of being jailed or forced to do physical labor because she can’t afford to pay the government. Read More »
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Lawsuit Challenges Modern-Day Debtors’ Prison

Oct 6, 2015
An ACLU-WA lawsuit says Benton County is violating the Constitution by jailing, threatening to jail, or forcing manual labor on people who are too poor to pay court-imposed debts.  Read More »

ACLU Calls for Changing State Law on Prosecuting Police for Killings

The prosecutor has decided not to file charges against Pasco police officers who killed a man throwing rocks. The decision shows a clear need to amend our state law on use of deadly force by law enforcement, so that police can better be held accountable. Read More »

Courts Should Review Harsh Sentences from Ill-Conceived Drug Laws

The War on Drugs has left thousands of people locked up under sentencing laws now widely viewed as discriminatory and not based in fact. An ACLU-WA brief is taking aim at the effects of an egregious Drug War policy: the lengthy sentences being served because of the government’s wrongheaded distinction between crack and powder cocaine, resulting in a 100:1 crack-powder disparity in sentences. Read More »