January 29, 2016 |
The ACLU of Pennsylvania and the Pennsylvania Department of Human Services on Wednesday announced the settlement of a federal lawsuit over treatment delays for defendants who courts had ordered be given mental-health care. In an October lawsuit, the ACLU and its co-counsel, Arnold & Porter, alleged that severely mentally ill defendants languished in Pennsylvania's county jails, sometimes for more than a year, while awaiting treatment to restore competence, so they could stand trial. Under the settlement, Pennsylvania agreed to add nearly 200 treatment slots, including at least 50 in supportive housing in Philadelphia.
January 8, 2016 |
Mummers in sombreros and brownface, some dressed as tacos. "Wench Lives Matter" signs. Caitlyn Jenner's face superimposed on a box of "Froot Loops. " Call these displays from the most recent Mummers Parade offensive, in poor taste, or unacceptable, as many have since New Year's Day. But don't expect the city to censor any of next year's acts, a top civil rights lawyer says, because that would be illegal. Even though tax dollars help support the South Broad Street spectacle, it is a private parade, and the city would violate the Mummers' freedom of speech if it vetted or vetoed any planned act, said Mary Catherine Roper, deputy legal director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Pennsylvania.
January 2, 2016 |
The Cumberland County (N.J.) Prosecutor's Office is reviewing a report from the American Civil Liberties Union saying blacks were arrested at a much higher rate than whites for minor offenses in Millville. The report, which came out Dec. 21, said that for the combined offenses of disorderly conduct, trespassing, loitering, and marijuana possession, blacks were 6.2 times more likely than whites to be arrested. "We're always concerned about how neutral policing strategies affect communities, and obviously the data's important to assess that," Prosecutor Jennifer Webb-McRae said Tuesday.
October 24, 2015 |
Criminal defendants found incompetent to stand trial in Pennsylvania courts are supposed to be sent to a state hospital for "competency restoration treatment. " Federal courts have ruled that a wait of more than seven days for hospitalization is unconstitutional, according to the Pennsylvania chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union. Instead, patients are waiting in county jails for months, and sometimes a year or more, according to a federal lawsuit filed against state officials Thursday by the ACLU.
October 23, 2015 |
THE ACLU OF Pennsylvania is suing the secretary of the state Department of Human Services and two other officials for what it calls a "consistent and continuing failure" to provide adequate mental-health care for people ruled incompetent to stand trial in criminal cases. In the suit, filed yesterday in U.S. District Court, the ACLU rails against the state for having "the longest delays in the country" for competency restoration treatment, which would allow the cases to proceed. It claims the lack of resources violates the patients' rights to due process, as well as the American Disabilities Act and Rehabilitation Act. "Our clients in this case are the forgotten among the forgotten," said Witold Walczak, the ACLU of Pennsylvania's legal director.
October 22, 2015 |
HARRISBURG - Pennsylvania's civil forfeiture program contradicts the U.S. Constitution because it can allow prosecutors to take property from innocent people, even those not charged with a crime, a state senator said Tuesday. "Unintentionally, we have just totally gotten away from these rights that have been given to us," said State Sen. Mike Folmer (R., Dauphin), speaking at a committee hearing in the Capitol. Folmer has sponsored legislation that would change certain aspects of the law, which allows prosecutors to seize assets they believe have been acquired through illegal activity, such as drug dealing, even if the owner is not charged.
May 20, 2015 |
The Camden police read to children, enjoy the trust of the community, and match "courage with compassion," President Obama said Monday. "More like the Peace Corps," Chief Scott Thomson said. Or, the department is overly aggressive and risking escalating tensions, the American Civil Liberties Union says. Two years after it was formed, drawing controversy as it replaced Camden's old police department, the county-run force still arouses strong feelings on either side. Crime statistics - sharp drops in homicides, robberies, and other major offenses - allow the department and its boosters to claim that its community-policing strategies are making the city safer.
May 14, 2015 |
P ATRICIA ARQUETTE made a big deal of the country's male-female pay disparity during her acceptance speech at this year's Oscars. Hopefully, folks in the audience listened, because the American Civil Liberties Union is asking federal and California civil-rights agencies to investigate what it calls "the systemic failure" to hire female directors in the entertainment industry. The ACLU of Southern California and the national ACLU Women's Rights Project said yesterday that they were moved to act after compiling statistical evidence of "dramatic disparities" in the hiring of women as film and TV directors.
December 5, 2014
IN AN OLD "Saturday Night Live" skit called "White Like Me," Eddie Murphy went undercover as a white person. The punch line: When blacks aren't around, white people behave differently, giving one another free stuff, including no-strings bank loans. The skit played on the idea that whites and blacks suspect one another of having tribal loyalties and behaviors that they keep secret from one another, and only bring out when they're in "safe" company. Murphy's bit was funny. Not so funny is the belief among some blacks that police are out to get them, and that white society thinks their lives are expendable.
October 9, 2014 |
The recent repeal of a juvenile curfew in a North Jersey town has renewed questions about the constitutionality of such measures, prompting some local officials to review their laws. The widespread effects were clear Tuesday night, when Paulsboro's borough council approved rescinding its curfew, a measure in place since 1983. The decision to ax the law has brought at least a temporary end to nights when a siren's wail at 10 p.m. signaled those under 18 should be home. "It's going to be a problem," Police Chief Chris Wachter said Tuesday afternoon.