The ACLU of the Nation's Capital on Monday wrote to the Council to express one final concern about a bill that would significantly improve the District's civil asset forfeiture law: the date of implementation for one provision. Civil asset forfeiture is the process by which law enforcement agents seize millions of dollars from civilians, simply by asserting that they believe the money is connected to some illegal activity and without ever pursuing criminal charges. The ACLU-NCA strongly supports the implementation of these important and long overdue reforms. However, as currently drafted, the provision that would redirect funds seized pursuant to a federal law from going directly to the MPD and instead into the city's General Fund would not go into effect until 2018. "We think a four-year delay in implementing this important reform is unconscionable," wrote Arthur Spitzer, Legal Director for the ACLU of the Nation's Capital.
The Washington Post has dramatically illustrated the consequences of civil asset forfeiture in its ongoing "Stop and seize" investigative series. In the latest installment, the Post reported that the Metropolitan Police Department has budgeted for about $2.7 million in income from forfeitures through 2018, "even though federal guidelines say 'agencies may not commit' to such spending in advance."
ACLU, ACLU-NCA, UNITED SIKHS File Suit after U.S. Army Bars Sikh Student from ROTC Due to Beard, Unshorn Hair, and TurbanNovember 12, 2014
The American Civil Liberties Union, the ACLU of the Nation’s Capital, and UNITED SIKHS filed a lawsuit today against the U.S. Army for refusing to allow a Sikh student at Hofstra University to enlist in the Reserve Officer Training Corps (ROTC) program unless he shaves his beard, removes his turban and cuts his hair, in accordance with Army grooming and uniform regulations.
Passage of Initiative 71 is a historic victory for both local residents and the nation. Initiative 71 is the country’s first marijuana legalization effort catalyzed by a movement for racial justice. The ACLU report, "Behind the DC Numbers: The War on Marijuana in Black and White,"exposed staggering racial disparities in arrests for marijuana offenses despite equal usage rates between Black and white populations. This report resulted in a double digit increase in support for legalization in the District and that increase in support is largely drawn from the African American communities. Today, the ACLU of the Nation’s Capital stands with the District in demanding an end to the failed war on drugs and we look forward to working with the DC Council to prepare a carefully thought out and sensible approach to marijuana reform for the District
The ACLU of the Nation’s Capital is the Washington, D.C. affiliate of the American Civil Liberties Union, a national nonprofit organization devoted to the protection of civil liberties and civil rights. Founded in 1961, the ACLU of the Nation’s Capital is one of the District’s premier public advocacy organizations, focusing exclusively on issues that arise within the District of Columbia in areas such as police practices reform, racial justice, freedom of speech and religion, LGBT rights, gender equality and prisoner rights. We advance civil liberties through litigation, legislation and public education. The summer law clerks at the ACLU of the Nation’s Capital gain a comprehensive, hands-on introduction to the legal work of one of the nation’s major advocacy organizations.
Today Chelsea Manning filed a lawsuit in federal court in the District of Columbia against Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel and other Department of Defense (DOD) and Department of the Army officials for their failure to provide her with medically necessary treatment for her gender dysphoria, a condition with which she was originally diagnosed by Army doctors more than four years ago.
The complaint is accompanied by a motion for a preliminary injunction demanding that Ms. Manning be provided hormone therapy, permission to follow female grooming standards, and access to treatment by a medical provider qualified to treat her condition. Ms. Manning is currently serving a thirty-five year prison sentence at the United States Disciplinary Barracks at Ft. Leavenworth Kansas, and though the military recognizes that she has gender dysphoria requiring treatment, critical care has been withheld without any medical basis.
Groups Sue U.S. Government over Life-Threatening Deportation Process against Mothers and Children Escaping Extreme Violence in Central AmericaAugust 22, 2014
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE June 25, 2014
WASHINGTON – The House Appropriations Committee today approved an amendment that blocks implementation of D.C.'s marijuana decriminalization law. The District of Columbia Appropriations bill includes a provision prohibiting the D.C. government from spending federal funds or even locally raised funds to carry out any law, rule, or regulation to reduce criminal penalties for marijuana. The amendment was introduced by Rep. Andy Harris (R-Md.).
“By any measure, the war on drugs, particularly on marijuana, has been a failure and severely impacted Black communities and communities of color,” said Monica Hopkins-Maxwell, Executive Director at the ACLU of the Nation’s Capital. “Today’s rider passage is a detrimental blow in the D.C. Council’s attempt to enact smarter, fairer laws that address racial disparities and the mass incarceration of communities of color.”
The Honorable James Robertson speaks at the ACLU-NCA 2014 Bill of Rights Awards Dinner at The National Press Club on April 23, 2014April 28, 2014