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American Civil Liberties Union

Latest Articles

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Whistleblower returns; Maine a prison-reform model

On Valentine's Day, prisoner Deane Brown, who sounded an alarm that drew international attention to the savagery of solitary confinement and other abuses in the Maine State Prison's "supermax" unit, was returned to the Warren prison after an exile of mo
Prodigal Sons  
By LANCE TAPLEY  |  March 22, 2013

Maine’s same-sex couples get a New Year’s present

Happy New Year, indeed. On November 6, Mainers United for Marriage celebrated as our state became the first to use a popular election to allow committed same-sex couples to receive a marriage license. On Monday, advocates cheered again, when they heard
License to Wed
By DEIRDRE FULTON  |  December 07, 2012
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Tapley racks up another award

Portland Phoenix contributing writer Lance Tapley, who has covered conditions in the Maine State Prison and throughout the state's corrections system since 2005, will be honored by the American Civil Liberties Union of Maine for "outstanding advocacy
Laurels
By JEFF INGLIS  |  October 12, 2012

Congress gives us all detention

The $662 billion military spending bill expected to go before both houses of Congress later this week includes controversial provisions allowing the US military to arrest and indefinitely detain, without trial, anyone suspected of terrorism-related crim
Rights watch
By DEIRDRE FULTON  |  December 16, 2011

Senator Collins helps derail prison reform

As a result of the apparent decision by congressional Republicans to oppose almost everything Democrats are for, Maine Senator Susan Collins — who claims to be above partisanship — helped derail Virginia Democratic Senator Jim Webb's bill to establish a
'Toxic' Washington
By LANCE TAPLEY  |  November 11, 2011
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Don't read these books!!

The Rhode Island affiliate of the American Civil Liberties Union will host its annual Banned Books event on September 23 at 6 pm at the Providence Athenaeum.
Censored
By DAVID SCHARFENBERG  |  September 23, 2011


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An all-seeing eye for the FBI?

The latest Boston Phoenix is spread across your steering wheel. You're reading this article. In a legal parking spot. With the engine off. A transportation cop zaps your license plate with a computerized scanner, cycles your registration through the s
Every step you take
By CHRIS FARAONE  |  April 29, 2011
John Reinstein

Freedom's Foot Soldier

No one has labored with more love and assiduity to keep those liberties established by John Adams secure than John Reinstein, who has enjoyed a long and distinguished career as the top lawyer for the American Civil Liberties Union of Massachusetts.  
Plus, Why Romney, Brown and Kerry are wrong
By EDITORIAL  |  March 11, 2011
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Strange bedfellows: The right and left team up on criminal-justice reform

The practical result of the new spirit of political civility is still an open question, but there is one area where small-government conservatives and do-gooder liberals might really be moving toward significant policy agreement, compromise, and action:
Away from the spotlight, criminal-justice-reform advocates are making progress - with the help of their new friends, the conservatives
By DAVID S. BERNSTEIN  |  January 28, 2011

LePage interested in corporate prisons

In the gubernatorial campaign the controversial Corrections Corporation of America (CCA), the nation's largest for-profit prison operator, spent $25,000 on behalf of Republican candidate Paul LePage, now the governor-elect.
The $25,000 contribution question
By LANCE TAPLEY  |  December 17, 2010
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Pushing to remove shackles from pregnant prisoners

It sounds almost too cruel to be true: a woman inmate is shackled to a hospital bed while delivering her baby. Sadly, hundreds of women across the country endure that humiliation, an unthinkable indignity for an already downtrodden group.
Behind Bars
By ELIZABETH RAU  |  October 15, 2010


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The 13th Annual Muzzle Awards

A year and a half into the Age of Obama, we are learning a lesson we should have figured out long ago — that repression, once in place, is rarely rolled back all the way, and that liberals no less than conservatives are reluctant to give up power.
A look at the dishonorable enemies of free speech and personal liberty in New England
By DAN KENNEDY  |  July 02, 2010
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Elena Kagan’s shaky record

As a potential Obama nominee for Supreme Court justice, Elena Kagan has liberal bona fides and the likely support of the right. But if her record is any indication, she’s more likely to side with the conservative bloc on matters of executive power and wa
What a Kagan appointment to the Supreme Court could mean for civil liberties
By HARVEY SILVERGLATE AND KYLE SMEALLIE  |  April 23, 2010

A ‘moral victory’ against supermax torture

At times the legislative debate on LD 1611, the bill to limit solitary confinement of the state’s prisoners, became surreal.
Analysis
By LANCE TAPLEY  |  April 16, 2010

Extremist Fail

A political story could literally not contain more irony than the story of the USA PATRIOT Act and its effect on the modern extremist right-wing movement.
Letters to the Portland Editor, April 2, 2010
By PORTLAND PHOENIX LETTERS  |  April 02, 2010

Nudity throughout history



By ALEXIS HAUK  |  March 19, 2010


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The Big Hurt: Clench and release(1)

Press-release time again!
The week in awful press releases
By DAVID THORPE  |  March 12, 2010
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Screams from solitary

The 132-man supermax unit within the 925-man Maine State Prison is an expensive, taxpayer-funded torture chamber that for 18 years has sucked in mostly nonviolent, mostly mentally ill prisoners and ground them up by means of mind-destroying solitary conf
‘By dehumanizing prisoners, we dehumanize ourselves.’
By LANCE TAPLEY  |  February 19, 2010

Fight for your right to party

Rhode Island's tragic collision with teen drinking in recent years has heightened concern about substance abuse in the state's school districts.
Civil Liberties Dept.
By DAVID SCHARFENBERG  |  November 13, 2009
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ACLU, fighting the good fight

If the Rhode Island ACLU could tap any two figures to headline its 50th anniversary event, it might choose Roger Williams and Anne Hutchinson. And so it has.
Honoring the past
By BILL RODRIGUEZ  |  September 18, 2009

Free speechifying

How can Dan Kennedy pick a list of people who trample freedom of expression without listing the mayor of Boston?
Letters to the Boston editor, July 17, 2009
By BOSTON PHOENIX LETTERS  |  July 17, 2009


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The 12th Annual Muzzle Awards

With the era of repression and secrecy fostered by George W. Bush and Dick Cheney finally over, this should be the best of times for freedom of expression, open government, and civil liberties. Yet change comes slowly.
A look at the dishonorable enemies of free speech and personal liberty in New England.
By DAN KENNEDY  |  July 10, 2009

Human rights watch

Last week, on the heels of anti-torture panels and protests in Portland, Washington DC, and elsewhere, the Justice Department told the nation that it would have to wait a few more days before information about American torture policies and practices is
Acknowledging, and punishing, torture
By DEIRDRE FULTON  |  June 26, 2009
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Guilty until proven guilty

The US Supreme Court's June 18 decision denying prisoners access to DNA testing — a procedure that could reliably prove innocence — adds to the high court's decades-long shameful record on criminal-justice issues.
Freedom Watch
By HARVEY SILVERGLATE  |  June 26, 2009

ACLU and Irons: Strange political bedfellows

Politics has seldom made stranger bedfellows than those exposed when the RI ACLU hopped into the sack with former state senator William Irons.
LegalWatch
By MARY ANN SORRENTINO  |  May 08, 2009
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Sunshine on the ACLU: a mea culpa

"Standing up to your political enemies is easy, fun, and often profitable," writes Barney Frank, on the lead jacket blurb for Worst Instincts: Cowardice, Conformity, and the ACLU.
Freedom Watch
By HARVEY SILVERGLATE  |  May 08, 2009


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Review: American Violet

Arrested for a crime she didn't commit, Dee Roberts is enlisted by an ACLU lawyer (Tim Blake Nelson) to sue the county for racist intent and stop the DA from what is continually referred to as "terrorizing the black community."
Racism is bad
By JASON O'BRYAN  |  May 01, 2009

Crossword: ''A sustainable puzzle''

And I even recycled a few clues.
And I even recycled a few clues.
By MATT JONES  |  April 10, 2009

Devotion to unholy creed

Some of my readers have a warped view of my political bent.
Al Daimon insists he ain't a right-wing jerk. Really.
By AL DIAMON  |  March 11, 2009
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Meggett takes an early lead

When football scouts describe running backs, they like to talk about a back's "shake": his ability to make tacklers miss in the hole.
Sad sack
By MATT TAIBBI  |  January 21, 2009