ACLU on Crime

American Civil Liberties Union


Chemical castration for sex offenders is unconstitutional

Gov. Ivey this afternoon signed into law a bill to require sex offenders whose victims are younger than 13 to undergo "chemical castration treatment" as a condition of parole. The treatment consists of taking a medication to suppress or block the production of testosterone.

The Alabama chemical castration law says sex offenders will have to take "medroxyprogesterone acetate treatment or its chemical equivalent, that reduces or blocks the production of testosterone." The law requires the treatment to begin at least one month before a parolee is released.

The executive director of the ALCU of Alabama, said the chemical castration treatment has been rarely used in other states that have authorized it, and thinks it likely violates the ban on cruel and unusual punishment. "It's not clear that this actually has any effect and whether it's even medically proven," the ACLU spokesperson said. "When the state starts experimenting on people, I think it runs afoul of the Constitution."

Source: Birmingham News on Alabama voting records: HB 379 , Jun 10, 2019

Eliminating cash bail perpetuates racist system

We need to reform our criminal justice system by eliminating cash bail once and for all. And enacting speedy trial. And discovery reform.

ACLU commentary on California's elimination of cash bail; NPR, 8/29/18: Every day, people who have not been convicted of a crime are incarcerated pretrial because they're too poor to afford cash bail. The California Legislature eliminated this cash bail industry, and that's a good thing. But it replaces this current system with another system that could be even worse, by creating broad new categories of people who will now be presumed to be subjected to pretrial incarceration--essentially algorithms that pop out a number that tells a judge what risk you are. Communities of color are over-policed & come in contact with the criminal justice system much more frequently. If you build an algorithm that gives you a worse score on a risk assessment because you have been arrested before, then that perpetuates racial bias in the criminal justice system.

Source: ACLU on Cuomo's 2019 New York State of the State address , Jan 15, 2019

Death penalty is a broken process; abolish it nationwide

Nebraska carried out its first execution in more than two decades with the lethal injection of four drugs in a combination never tried before. The Nebraska ACLU released the following statement:

The 38-year-long journey to this execution further proves what we've been saying all along: The ACLU believes the death penalty in America is a broken process from start to finish and should be abolished nationwide. Governor Ricketts has carried out a lethal injection shrouded in secrecy. This execution of Carey Dean Moore does not comport with Nebraska's proud tradition of open government. Today stands as the most recent dark chapter in Nebraska's troubled history with the death penalty. Nebraskans of goodwill have different beliefs about the death penalty, but it is troubling and curious why Governor Ricketts made the death penalty his signature issue. More states are turning away from capital punishment.

Source: KHGI nebraska.tv on 2018 Nebraska gubernatorial race , Aug 14, 2018

Require unanimous jury for the death penalty

SB 16: Prohibits Judicial Override of Sentencing Decision:

OnTheIssues summary: This bill changes the rules for sentencing criminals in capital cases when sentencing to death versus life imprisonment. The previous rules had a jury trial with an advisory verdict of life or death, and then a separate sentencing trial, where the judge could override the jury's sentence. The new rules allow the defendant to choose a jury trial or a non-jury (judge-based) trial. In either case, the verdict is final.

ACLU opinion: This new law prevents judges from overriding the will of the community by imposing the death penalty when a jury has recommended life imprisonment. While we applaud this change, Alabama is still the only state that does not require a unanimous jury for the death penalty.

Legislative Outcome:Passed House 78-19-2 in roll call #362 on April 16; passed Senate 23-5-0 in roll call #111 on Feb. 23; signed by Gov. Kay Ivey on April 4.

Source: Alabama legislative voting records: SB 16 , Apr 4, 2017

Black Lives Matter and police don't need special protection

LA Gov. Edwards signed a bill that makes targeting a police officer a hate crime. Passage of such bills at the state level is a top priority for a national organization called Blue Lives Matter, which was formed in response to the Black Lives Matter movement.

[Two Louisiana shootings were captured on video, on which] "police killed a black man who was minding his own business," says the director of ACLU-LA. But it was the civil rights of police officers that Edwards was concerned about in May, as if theirs were being routinely violated. "I'm not aware of any evidence that police officers have been victimized that would justify giving them special protection," the ACLU director said.

The new law places police officers, firefighters, and EMTs under protection from hate crimes. Laws similar to the one in Louisiana have been proposed in KY, TN, and IL. In Washington, lawmakers introduced a "Thin Blue Line Act," which would strengthen penalties for attacks on law enforcement.

Source: ACLU 2015-16 voting recommendation on BLM , Jul 7, 2016

Oppose expanding death penalty in Virginia

SB 1288: Redefines the "triggerman rule," which currently provides that only the actual perpetrator of a capital murder is eligible for the death penalty and that accessories and principals in the second degree can be punished only as if guilty of first degree murder.

Summary by the ACLU: Death penalty critics, who point out that Virginia ranks second only to Texas in the number of persons executed, feared that elimination of the rule might encourage prosecutors to bring many more death penalty cases and cause more executions to take place. Several studies question the quality of legal representation for indigent defendants, the reluctance of appellate courts to review trial convictions and arcane procedural rules that benefit prosecutors.

Legislative Outcome: Passed by Senate 28-11-1 on Jan/23/07; Passed by House 83-13-4 on Feb/21/07; Vetoed by Governor Kaine on Mar/26/07

Source: Virginia Legislative voting record SB 1288 , Apr 4, 2007

VAWA is effective in reducing domestic violence and stalking

The ACLU stated its support of the reauthorization of VAWA in a July 27, 2005 letter to the Senate Judiciary Committee regarding the Violence Against Women Act: "VAWA is one of the most effective pieces of legislation enacted to end domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, and stalking. It has dramatically improved the law enforcement response to violence against women and has provided critical services necessary to support women & children in their struggle to overcome abusive situations."
Source: ACLU voting recommendation on VAWA , Jul 27, 2005

Other pundits on Crime: ACLU on other issues:

Opinion Leaders on the Right:
Cato Institute
Milton Friedman (Nobel Economist)
Rush Limbaugh (Radio Talk Show Host)
Ayn Rand (Author and Philosopher)
Heritage Foundation (Think Tank)
Libertarian Party
Republican Party
Ronald Reagan(President,1981-1989)
Joe Scarborough (Former Congressman; Radio Host)

Opinion Leaders on the Left:
American Civil Liberties Union
Democratic Party
Noam Chomsky (Author and Philosopher)
Green Party
Arianna Huffington (Internet Columnist)
Robert Reich (Professor and Columnist)
Howard Schultz (CEO of Starbucks)
John F. Kennedy(President,1961-1963)
Sierra Club
Civil Rights
Foreign Policy
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Page last updated: May 01, 2021