Stories from the ACLU of Washington

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Friday, July 23, 2010
This week a federal court in Connecticut issued a ground-breaking decision in a Title IX athletics case brought by the ACLU against Quinnipiac University.  Title IX is the landmark legislation passed in 1972 which prohibits educational institutions from discriminating against students based on sex.  Title IX applies to all aspects of educational programming, including extracurricular athletic programs.
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Thursday, July 22, 2010
On Saturday, July 24 and Sunday, July 25 from Noon–7:00 pm, the ACLU of Washington will be enjoying performance and visual arts, crafts, dances, foods and information from around the globe. Read more
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Thursday, July 22, 2010
This week, the Seattle Times is running a Washington Post expose on the vast American intelligence bureaucracy. Called Top Secret America, the series delves deep into the underbelly of the intelligence world and exposes a runaway freight train that costs a pretty penny and does little to keep us safe. Of particular significance to ACLU-ers, the series documents official frustration with data overload, notes the high cost and low efficacy of the expanding network of programs and agencies, and highlights concerns with the increasing role of private intelligence contractors. Those familiar with our work on surveillance and privacy will recognize these issues as common refrains.
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Thursday, July 22, 2010
Outrage erupted in Utah last week after an anonymous group delivered a detailed list of 1300 alleged undocumented immigrants to media outlets and law enforcement, with a demand that these individuals “be deported immediately.“ The immigration hit list contained birth dates, workplaces, addresses, phone numbers, Social Security numbers, names of children and the exact due dates for several pregnant women. All of the names appeared to be Hispanic.
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Tuesday, July 20, 2010
People rarely think about police accountability until their city is faced with a disturbing and well-publicized incident of police misconduct.  In Spokane that incident was the 2006 death of a mentally disabled man during an arrest.  Community outrage came immediately, but it took two years of public debate and discussion for the City Council and Mayor to enact an ordinance creating the Office of Police Ombudsman.  A little over a year ago, the City of Spokane took the next major step toward advancing police accountability by hiring its first Police Ombudsman.     Read more
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Monday, July 19, 2010
I've recently returned from vacation in San Diego, a beautiful city from which you can see Tijuana, or "TJ," as the locals call it. My family and I had a fabulous time relaxing, reuniting with loved ones, and stuffing our gullets with the wonders of Juanita's Taco Shop. But my husband broke my cardinal vacation rule - no talk about work, please - and brought up California's Proposition 19. That forced my hand: If you're going to talk about cannabis reform, you have to talk about Mexico.
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Friday, July 16, 2010
In 1966, the U.S. Supreme Court affirmed the right to remain silent during the now-famous court case Miranda v. Arizona.  But last month the Court redefined the process of invoking one’s Miranda rights. In Berghuis v. Thompkins the Supreme Court ruled, in a 5-4 split, that one must declare that she or he is invoking her or his right not to speak to police either before or during a police interrogation. In her dissent, Justice Sotomayor said the majority had created a kind of paradox: “A suspect who wishes to guard his right to remain silent,” she wrote, “must, counter intuitively, speak.”
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Friday, July 16, 2010
Most Americans are not “racists”.  Most of us don’t look for ways to discriminate against people who look different from us, and very few of us try to harm others because of the color of their skin. But that doesn’t mean that most Americans live their lives free of racial biases.  As Seattle Times columnist, Jerry Large discusses in his recent article, implicit bias – the unconscious way that we think about people of different races or genders or religious groups – is as big a problem in America today as overt racism was a few years ago. Implicit bias affects the decisions we make every day – who we hire, who we arrest, whose testimony we believe, who gets the better grade, even who we talk to on the bus. And it affects us all.  Researchers at Project Implicit have spent years studying unconscious bias in the United States and have made some of their research tools available online. Take one of their many tests to see what effect stereotypes and unconscious prejudices have on your decision-making.  It is an eye-opening experience.
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Tuesday, July 13, 2010
The use and abuse of prescription opiates (powerful pain killers, such as Vicodin® and OxyContin®) has been steadily increasing in recent years. 1 in 5 adolescents and 1 in 10 adults are prescribed an opiate medication each year. Many of these drugs will be used illicitly by those who do not have a prescription. In 2008, prescription opiate abuse accounted for 20% of all publicly funded treatment admissions, ahead of marijuana and cocaine. A variety of solutions have been offered for how to deal with the prescription opiate problem. Better education for patients and healthcare professionals, tighter regulations for how and when they can be used, and disposal programs for unused medications. Notably absent from these solutions is one we commonly rely on in the United States; total prohibition via criminal enforcement. Thank goodness.
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Monday, July 12, 2010
While summer days have (finally) arrived, and many of us are thinking most about play and vacations, Washington’s primary election is just around the corner, on August 17. And the registration deadline for the primary election online or in-person is only days away, on July 19.

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