Tuesday, February 25, 2020
The growth of Washington’s prison population stems largely from long and life sentences. This report examines the policies that fuel mass incarceration and the stories of those affected by them.
Tuesday, December 1, 2015
When a juvenile is caught using or sharing an illegal drug, what is the appropriate community response? Should he or she be arrested and charged with a crime, or should he or she receive public health services?
Friday, September 4, 2015
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.
Friday, June 10, 2011
In a case (State v. Monday) that drew front-page coverage in today’s Seattle Times, the Washington Supreme Court has issued a strong ruling that racist comments by a prosecutor undermine the fundamental right to a fair trial.
Wednesday, February 16, 2011
I can understand why many people in Seattle are angry that Seattle Police Officer Ian Birk will not be charged with murder. If you or I intentionally shot and killed someone who was not an immediate threat to us, we would be charged with murder or at the very least manslaughter. But the law treats police officers differently. In 1986, Washington’s legislature passed a law that allows police officers to escape criminal charges for killing a person so long as the officer had a good faith belief that his actions were justified and he acted “without malice.” This law protects the officer even if his “good faith belief” was wrong. So, it is not surprising that King County Prosecutor Dan Satterberg believed that he would not be able to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that Officer Birk murdered John T. Williams.
Wednesday, December 22, 2010
The ACLU of Washington has filed a friend-of-the-court brief saying that the firing of an employee for using marijuana at home for medicinal purposes was wrongful. The ACLU brief urges that the rights of individuals under our state’s medical marijuana law be protected. The Washington Supreme Court will hear oral argument in the employee’s case on January 18, 2011.
Wednesday, December 15, 2010
Next month, the King County District Court will hold an inquest into the August 30, 2010, fatal shooting of First Nations carver John T. Williams by Seattle Police Officer Ian Birk.  An inquest looks like a trial, so you might imagine that we will soon learn whether Officer Birk committed a crime or will be found civilly liable for killing Mr. Williams, right?  Well, probably not.  The one thing that inquest juries cannot do is to determine liability.
Tuesday, November 2, 2010
A broken criminal justice system doesn’t just affect felons, it impacts us. In an insightful article in The Pacific Northwest Inlander correspondent Leah Sottile discusses the many challenges individuals with criminal convictions face long after they’ve paid their debts to society. These “collateral consequences” hurt not only ex-felons, but also their children, as when their families cannot get stable and safe housing. A single mother with a non-violent drug conviction over 20 years old notes that she’s “going to have to move into a place that’s dangerous for my children…My children now have to grow up around the same things that influenced me to become a felon.”