One of the major fears rising from the campaign of Donald Trump was that his rhetoric would embolden state and local officials—especially those seeking to capitalize on the headlines the President is generating—who wanted to roll back important Constitutional protections. Case in point: the recent announcement by state Treasurer (and 2018 U.S.
Last week, the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals dealt a serious blow to Ohio’s illegal and unfair practice of removing voters from the rolls simply because they have not voted for a few federal elections. The ACLU of Ohio and Demos challenged this process in court, and the Sixth Circuit Court decided that it violated federal law and must stop immediately.
Attorney Andrea Burton didn’t walk into a local Youngstown courtroom with a large banner or poster — she simply had a small metal button with the words “Black Lives Matter” on her lapel. That was enough for Judge Robert Milich to sentence her to five days in the Mahoning County Jail because she refused to remove the pin.
It is already incredibly difficult for people leaving prison and jail to succeed on the outside. They must contend with criminal records that follow them at every turn. It prevents them from getting certain jobs, or even living in certain apartment buildings.
In 2012, Ohio made history as the first state to ever sell a publicly owned prison to a for-profit company, and now it’s poised to do the same again. In a play of legislative sleight of hand, politicians amended the sale of the North Central Correctional Institution in Marion, Ohio, into an unrelated bill just before summer recess and passed it without any chance for testimony, public discussion, or media coverage.
The end of 2014 was not a good moment in Ohio’s long and sordid history with the death penalty.
In the final weeks of session, the General Assembly passed House Bill 663 (HB 663), which shrouded executions in unnecessary and dangerous secrecy that could lead to yet another botched execution.
What happens when a prison for profit loses one of its main moneymakers?
We’re about to find out.
The federal Bureau of Prisons announced last week that they would not renew their contract with Corrections Corporation of America to house prisoners in the Northeast Ohio Corrections Center in Youngstown.
It’s that time of year again! It’s the season when sleigh bells ring, halls are decked with holiday decorations, and when talking heads appear on our TV or in newspapers with dire warnings of the “War on Christmas.”
Breathlessly, they exclaim that organizations like the ACLU are attempting to use the courts to take candy canes out of children’s hands, forbid the singing of carols, and dash a few dreidels while we’re at it.
“Repent! He needs to repent!”
These words echoed around the halls of Cleveland City Council as a man began yelling dramatically at a woman who got up to go to the bathroom.
Why was he yelling at this woman? Because she was a transgender woman.
Ohio’s death penalty has had a long and sordid history. Just look at the past decade:
» Four botched executions.
» Ten people granted clemency by the governor.
» Fifty-six recommendations from an Ohio Supreme Court taskforce of experts to revamp our broken system.
Update 09.29.14: Due to an order by the U.S. Supreme Court, Ohio’s early voting period has changed from the schedule originally listed below. Read our press release: ACLU Comment on Supreme Court Action on Ohio Early Voting. Go to our Vote Center for up to date information.
When I was a kid, one of my best friends had a knack for changing the rules to the game every time he was losing. If we were playing hide and seek and I found him, he’d come up with some new rule forcing me to count to 100 again.
Five ACLU staff attorneys.
Multiple volunteer attorneys, clerks, and legal assistants.
Hundreds of hours of staff time fighting unfair restrictions on Ohioans’ right to vote.
On Monday, August 11, the ACLU of Ohio and ACLU National Voting Rights Project went to court in Columbus to challenge cuts to early voting that will hurt working Ohioans.
It shouldn’t be news to anyone who has read a paper or watched television that there are significant problems with lethal injection. This year, Ohio, Oklahoma and Arizona have all had executions that left witnesses with little doubt that they were botched.
It never fails to amaze me how some politicians continue to claim that cuts to early voting opportunities don’t hurt voters, and that people have plenty of time to cast their ballots without evenings and weekends. At best, these claims are willfully ignorant of the fact that many people have inflexible work schedules, childcare duties, lack of transportation, or a disability that makes it difficult for them to get to their polling place on Election Day.
Tell me if you’ve heard this one before: a private company comes in to Ohio prisons promising it can achieve huge cost savings by taking over for the wasteful government. Legislators sign on, and after the private company takes over, everything begins to fall apart.
This ACLU of Ohio Op/Ed originally appeared in The Cincinnati Enquirer on 6/25/2014
Mike Brickner is senior policy director for ACLU American Civil Liberties Union of Ohio.
“This is not what democracy should look like.”
It was my first thought as I watched the television on Nov.
As long as the death penalty exists, we have a duty to make sure that it is carried out fairly. Death is the harshest punishment society can dole out, so we must ensure that the right person is convicted, that it is reserved for the worst offenses, and that the execution procedure is transparent and administered in a humane way.
When people go to prison, it’s often their loved ones who end up shouldering the financial burden.
Prison jobs can help inmates purchase the bare essentials, but it falls to families to transfer money into commissary accounts if they want to stay in touch with their loved one on a regular basis.
This ACLU of Ohio blog post originally appeared on the National ACLU website on 2/05/2014
Debtors’ prisons sound like ancient history, right? Unfortunately, they’re all too common across the United States. In spite of the Constitution, case law, and common sense, low-income people are routinely jailed in places as far-flung as Georgia and Washington State simply because they cannot afford to pay their court fines.
Ohio made history today by becoming the first state to use the two-drug combination of midazolam and hydromorphone in the execution of Dennis McGuire. State officials decided to use this experimental combination of powerful sedatives and painkillers after supplies of approved execution drugs ran dry.
This ACLU of Ohio Op/Ed originally appeared in the Cleveland Plain Dealer on 9/30/2013
On Sept. 11, the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction revealed that prison inmate James Blackburn committed suicide while in prison. Blackburn’s death followed the more high-profile suicides of Ariel Castro and Billy Slagle weeks before and marked the eighth suicide in Ohio prisons in 2013.
Do you remember Jack Dawley—the man who spent weeks in jail and lost his job because of debtors’ prison?
I first met Jack Dawley in August 2012 at a coffee house in Norwalk, Ohio. Life was not very good for Jack at the time.
Recently, some have been critical of the way in which the ACLU of Ohio has chosen to pursue LGBT equality. Some have even questioned our courage.
First of all, any fight to advance the cause of LGBT equality is a noble one and we are very happy for James Obergefell and John Arthur, who scored a win this week in a lawsuit demanding that their Maryland marriage be recognized on their Ohio death certificates.