Human Rights Tag - ACLU of North Carolina Mon, 22 May 2017 13:19:45 -0400 en-gb In President Trump’s First Week, ACLU Hands Him First Stinging Rebuke

This is a remarkable day. When Donald Trump was elected president, we promised that if he tried to implement his unconstitutional and un-American policies that we would take him to court. We did that today. And we won.

Yesterday President Trump signed an executive order that suspended resettlement of Syrian refugees indefinitely, suspended all other refugee resettlement for 120 days, and banned the entry of nationals from Iraq, Syria, Iran, Sudan, Libya, Somalia, and Yemen for 90 days. All seven countries are predominately Muslim countries. We have no doubt that the motivation behind the executive order was discriminatory. This was a Muslim ban wrapped in a paper-thin national security rationale.

The executive order went into effect immediately and so did its destructive intent. At John F. Kennedy International Airport last night, Hameed Khalid Darweesh arrived and was immediately detained. Darweesh worked as interpreter for the Army’s 101st Airborne Division and, according to Brandon Friedman, a platoon leader in Iraq, saved countless U.S. service members’ lives. We don’t know how many other refugees and foreign nationals with green cards or visas might have been detained when they tried to make their way into the United States today, but we intend to find out. We are asking anyone with any information to get in touch with the ACLU.

The ACLU with other organizations immediately sprang into action and challenged Trump’s executive order in court as violating the Due Process and Equal Protection Clauses of the U.S. Constitution. We immediately got a hearing and argued our case. At around 9 p.m., Federal District Court Judge Ann M. Donnelly issued a stay, blocking President Trump’s discriminatory policy from taking effect and preventing refugees and immigrants from being deported. She did not rule on the constitutionality of the order, but for now, the men and women who would have been deported are safe. When I and staff attorney Lee Gelernt emerged from the courthouse, we were met with a sea of people cheering and chanting.

I cannot express how humbling and inspiring this moment is.

The United States is a nation governed by the rule of law and not the iron will of one man. President Trump now has learned that we are democratic republic where the powers of government are not dictatorial. They are limited. The courts are the bulwark of our democracy that protects individual rights and guards against the overreaching of an administration that confuses its will for the American public’s.

Tonight was one of the most incredible experiences of my life, one that demonstrates that the people united will never be divided. This is only the beginning. This is merely the first skirmish in a long battle to vigorously defend the Bill of Rights from the authoritarian designs of the Trump administration.

Savor this victory tonight, but prepare to fight on.

mmeno [AT] acluofnc [DOT] org (Mike Meno) Legal News Sat, 28 Jan 2017 15:12:00 -0500
ACLU Comment on Raids of Central American Families in United States

NEW YORK — The American Civil Liberties Union condemns Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson's statement today that the Obama administration will continue its raids targeting families who have come to the U.S. after fleeing violence in Central America.

 Cecillia Wang, director of the ACLU's Immigrants' Rights Project, said:

"These raids are a scare tactic to deter other families fleeing violence in Central America from coming to the United States. Secretary Johnson has himself admitted the raids are designed to deport as many as possible, as quickly as possible. The administration is doubling down on a system that is rigged against these families. Many of these mothers and children had no lawyers because they could not afford them. Without counsel, traumatized refugees don't understand what is happening in court and cannot get their legitimate asylum claims heard."

mmeno [AT] acluofnc [DOT] org (Mike Meno) Due Process Tue, 05 Jan 2016 09:41:59 -0500
Experts to Discuss Dismantling Mass Incarceration in Cary Oct. 1

CARY – Criminal justice experts from North Carolina and around the nation will gather in Cary on October 1 for a daylong symposium dedicated to exploring and identifying strategies to reduce or eliminate mass incarceration and its devastating impact on American communities.

While composing only 5 percent of the global population, the United States currently houses 25 percent of the world’s prison population. According to the Bureau of Justice Statistics, over 6.89 million people in the United States are in jails, prisons, and under other forms of adult correctional control, and this population is characterized by extreme racial disparities. Symposium participants will identify the role that legal organizations and members of the public can play in supporting criminal justice reforms aimed at reducing or eliminating mass incarceration and its harmful consequences.

What: Understanding and Dismantling Mass Incarceration: What Solutions Exist for North Carolina? Speakers at this Symposium will discuss the history of mass incarceration, factors exacerbating the phenomenon, the economics of the mass incarceration, and strategies for achieving real criminal justice reform in North Carolina.

Who: The symposium will include prominent voices on mass incarceration including:

  • Professor Heather Ann Thompson, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor
  • Former Texas Representative Jerry Madden, Right on Crime
  • Nicole Porter, The Sentencing Project

The symposium will also feature practitioners and experts from the UNC School of Law, Durham County District Court, Wake Forest University School of Law, American University College of Law, the North Carolina Department of Public Safety, Fayetteville Police Department, the Southern Coalition for Social Justice, the American Civil Liberties Union, and more. 

When:Thursday, October 1, from 8 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Reception to follow 5:30-7:30 p.m.

Where: North Carolina Bar Association, 8000 Weston Pkwy Cary, NC 27513

“There is a growing bipartisan consensus that it is time to rethink our society’s approach to criminal justice and incarceration. At this critical moment in the criminal justice reform movement, it is time to develop a comprehensive strategy for addressing mass incarceration in North Carolina,” said James E. Williams, Jr., Chief Public Defender for District 15B and Chair of the Mass Incarceration Symposium Planning Committee. “This symposium will enable the establishment of a North Carolina coalition dedicated to dismantling mass incarceration and its devastating impact on individuals, families, communities, and our democracy.” 

Panelist and Senior Fellow at Right on Crime, Jerry Madden agrees, saying “Criminal Justice reform, including the dismantling of mass incarceration, is not a partisan issue but one that effects people from every walk of life in every community. The cost of mass incarceration, in both dollars and in human lives, is an issue that effects every political party and philosophy. In this symposium we will talk about how Criminal Justice reform will continue and grow."

The symposium will be hosted by the North Carolina Commission on Racial and Ethnic Disparities in the Criminal Justice System (NC-CRED). Cosponsors include the ACLU of North Carolina; the NC Advocates for Justice; the NC Bar Association; the NC Public Defender Association; the Southern Coalition for Social Justice; and Tin Fulton Walker & Owen, PLLC.

For more information or to register, visit

mmeno [AT] acluofnc [DOT] org (Mike Meno) Legal News Thu, 17 Sep 2015 10:54:04 -0400
ACLU-NC & Others Ask U.S. Justice Department to Investigate Solitary Confinement in North Carolina

RALEIGH – A coalition of human rights groups today sent a letter asking the United States Department of Justice to open an investigation into the use of solitary confinement in North Carolina prisons. The letter comes weeks after President Obama ordered the Justice Department to review the use of solitary confinement across the country and criticized the practice in a major speech on criminal justice reform.  

The 15-page letter – signed by North Carolina Prisoner Legal Services, the American Civil Liberties Union’s National Prison Project, the ACLU of North Carolina, the University of North Carolina School of Law Human Rights Policy Seminar, the UNC Center for Civil Rights, and North Carolina Stop Torture Now – chronicles the recent deaths of several inmates held in solitary confinement in North Carolina, as well as the mistreatment and horrific conditions suffered by countless more. One of those prisoners, Michael Anthony Kerr, a 53-year-old former Army sergeant diagnosed with schizoaffective disorder, died of dehydration in March 2014 after spending 35 days in solitary confinement. In the letter, the groups document North Carolina’s failure to provide adequate resources for prison mental health services and explain how inmates with mental illness are disciplined for manifestations of their illness and often released directly to the community after months or years in isolation.  

“Understaffed, underfunded, and plagued by arbitrary standards, insufficient oversight, and inadequate resources for inmates with mental illness, North Carolina’s solitary confinement regime must change,” the letter reads. “However, governmental efforts and calls from the media and the public have resulted in little meaningful reform.  Every day that the status quo endures without intervention, North Carolina’s system for housing inmates in solitary confinement claims more victims to needless suffering and death.”

Background: On any given day, as much as 14 percent of North Carolina’s 37,500 prison inmates are locked away in solitary confinement—often for such minor offenses as using profanity.  There, they are isolated for 23 to 24 hours a day, without sunlight, fresh air, or contact with human beings.  More than one in five of those prisoners placed in isolation require some type of treatment for mental health issues.

Read a copy of the letter here.

mmeno [AT] acluofnc [DOT] org (Mike Meno) Human Rights Tue, 11 Aug 2015 08:28:11 -0400