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American Civil Liberties Union

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Whistleblower returns; Maine a prison-reform model

Prodigal Sons  
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 more than six years.
By LANCE TAPLEY  |  March 27, 2013

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

License to Wed
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 that the law would formally take effect on December 29.
By DEIRDRE FULTON  |  December 05, 2012
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Tapley racks up another award

Laurels
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 for prison reform."
By JEFF INGLIS  |  October 10, 2012

Congress gives us all detention

Rights watch
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 crimes, including American citizens.
By DEIRDRE FULTON  |  December 14, 2011

Senator Collins helps derail prison reform

'Toxic' Washington
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 bipartisan National Criminal Justice Commission. Maine's Olympia Snowe and three other Republicans joined unanimous Senate Democrats to support it.
By LANCE TAPLEY  |  November 09, 2011
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Don't read these books!!

Censored
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.
By DAVID SCHARFENBERG  |  September 21, 2011
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An all-seeing eye for the FBI?

Every step you take
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 system, and records the time and position of your car.
By CHRIS FARAONE  |  April 27, 2011
John Reinstein

Freedom's Foot Soldier

Plus, Why Romney, Brown and Kerry are wrong
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.  
By EDITORIAL  |  March 16, 2011
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Strange bedfellows: The right and left team up on criminal-justice reform

Away from the spotlight, criminal-justice-reform advocates are making progress - with the help of their new friends, the conservatives
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: criminal-justice reform.
By DAVID S. BERNSTEIN  |  January 26, 2011

LePage interested in corporate prisons

The $25,000 contribution question
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.
By LANCE TAPLEY  |  May 26, 2011
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Pushing to remove shackles from pregnant prisoners

Behind Bars
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.
By ELIZABETH RAU  |  October 13, 2010
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The 13th Annual Muzzle Awards

A look at the dishonorable enemies of free speech and personal liberty in New England
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.
By DAN KENNEDY  |  July 05, 2010
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Elena Kagan’s shaky record

What a Kagan appointment to the Supreme Court could mean for civil liberties
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 war-time presidential authority.  
By HARVEY SILVERGLATE AND KYLE SMEALLIE  |  April 16, 2010

A ‘moral victory’ against supermax torture

Analysis
At times the legislative debate on LD 1611, the bill to limit solitary confinement of the state’s prisoners, became surreal.
By LANCE TAPLEY  |  April 15, 2010

Extremist Fail

Letters to the Portland Editor, April 2, 2010
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.
By PORTLAND PHOENIX LETTERS  |  March 31, 2010

Nudity throughout history



By ALEXIS HAUK  |  March 17, 2010
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The Big Hurt: Clench and release(1)

The week in awful press releases
Press-release time again!
By DAVID THORPE  |  March 09, 2010
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Screams from solitary

‘By dehumanizing prisoners, we dehumanize ourselves.’
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 confinement, officially sanctioned beatings, “restraint” devices resembling those in medieval dungeons, sexual humiliation, and psychiatric, medical, and legal neglect.
By LANCE TAPLEY  |  February 17, 2010

Fight for your right to party

Civil Liberties Dept.
Rhode Island's tragic collision with teen drinking in recent years has heightened concern about substance abuse in the state's school districts.
By DAVID SCHARFENBERG  |  November 11, 2009
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ACLU, fighting the good fight

Honoring the past
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.
By BILL RODRIGUEZ  |  September 17, 2009

Free speechifying

Letters to the Boston editor, July 17, 2009
How can Dan Kennedy pick a list of people who trample freedom of expression without listing the mayor of Boston?
By BOSTON PHOENIX LETTERS  |  July 15, 2009
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The 12th Annual Muzzle Awards

A look at the dishonorable enemies of free speech and personal liberty in New England.
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.
By DAN KENNEDY  |  July 10, 2009

Human rights watch

Acknowledging, and punishing, torture
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 made public.
By DEIRDRE FULTON  |  June 24, 2009
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Guilty until proven guilty

Freedom Watch
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.
By HARVEY SILVERGLATE  |  June 24, 2009

ACLU and Irons: Strange political bedfellows

LegalWatch
Politics has seldom made stranger bedfellows than those exposed when the RI ACLU hopped into the sack with former state senator William Irons.
By MARY ANN SORRENTINO  |  May 06, 2009
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Sunshine on the ACLU: a mea culpa

Freedom Watch
"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.
By HARVEY SILVERGLATE  |  May 06, 2009
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Review: American Violet

Racism is bad
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."
By JASON O'BRYAN  |  April 28, 2009

Crossword: ''A sustainable puzzle''

And I even recycled a few clues.
And I even recycled a few clues.
By MATT JONES  |  April 08, 2009

Devotion to unholy creed

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

Sad sack
When football scouts describe running backs, they like to talk about a back's "shake": his ability to make tacklers miss in the hole.
By MATT TAIBBI  |  January 27, 2009

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