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.
July 26, 2014 |
A 2011 memo from Commissioner Charles H. Ramsey hasn't stopped Philadelphia police officers from intimidating and arresting people who try to record them, the ACLU says. So the organization is hoping a little dose of public shaming will. It launched a social-media campaign Thursday urging city residents to tweet their stories of police harassment for recording law enforcement activity with the hashtag #PACopWatch. The group's efforts coincided with the filing of the organization's fourth federal lawsuit on behalf of a city resident arrested on what it described as questionable grounds.
April 15, 2014 |
Dora Sander was among those who managed to slip away from the Third Reich after the November 1938 Kristallnacht destruction of storefronts and houses of worship showed its hatred of Jews even more publicly. In 1936, when she was 17, her parents in Stuttgart sent her to relatives in London, where she worked to perfect her English and where she became a tutor to two daughters of a widowed member of Parliament. She passed an English university entrance exam in May 1938, conferred with her family on a visit to Stuttgart, and returned to London.
April 7, 2014 |
The American Civil Liberties Union of New Jersey has sent letters to 136 school districts telling them to stop requiring photo identification from adults registering children for school or risk a possible lawsuit. "This requirement violates constitutional law, state law, and state regulations," wrote Alexander Shalom, ACLU senior staff attorney, in the April 1 letter. "The requirement discriminates against immigrant parents, preventing or discouraging them from registering their children to attend public school.