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Due Process

The due process and equal protection clauses embodied in our Constitution and Bill of Rights apply to every "person," and are not limited to U.S. citizens. Americans' most basic constitutional rights are severely threatened when people are unable to exercise their right to due process in court.

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."

CHARLOTTE – A constitutionally suspect proposal that would create “exclusion zones” to ban people who have been arrested from entering certain Charlotte neighborhoods will be discussed by the city’s Community Safety Committee tomorrow, Wednesday, November 18.

“While we have not yet seen a written proposal, the details that have been put forward are extremely  problematic and would almost certainly violate the constitutional rights of a huge number of Charlotteans,” said Susanna Birdsong, Policy Counsel for the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of North Carolina. “People should not have to obtain permission from the government to go to work or visit their relatives. We are watching this conversation very closely, and we urge Charlotte officials to abandon their pursuit of such a constitutionally suspect proposal.”      

Read the ACLU of North Carolina's letter expresssing concerns about the proposal to Charlotte's Community Safety Committee here.

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RALEIGH – The ACLU of North Carolina today launched Mobile Justice NC, a free smart phone app that allows North Carolinians to automatically record and submit cell phone videos to the ACLU of North Carolina when they believe law enforcement officers are violating civil rights.

Mobile Justice NC is available for use on Android and iOS phones in English and Spanish. The videos recorded by the app will be transmitted to the ACLU-NC and preserved even if the user’s phone is later seized or destroyed. 

“Our office receives hundreds of calls each year from people describing bad encounters with the police,” said Carolyna Caicedo Manrique, staff attorney for the ACLU of North Carolina. “This tool gives North Carolinians the ability to serve as a check on police abuse when they believe it is occurring, allowing users to record and document any interaction with law enforcement.”

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Solitary Confinement is Torture, Says UNC Report

Posted on in Due Process

CHAPEL HILL, N.C. – Solitary confinement is a cruel, inhuman and degrading form of punishment that amounts to torture and must no longer be used in the United States, according to Solitary Confinement as Torture, a new report released by the Human Rights Policy Seminar at the University of North Carolina School of Law.

The report, made in collaboration with the American Civil Liberties Union of North Carolina, North Carolina Stop Torture Now, and the law firm of Edelstein and Payne, uses research and interviews with prisoners to shine a light on the cruel and ineffective use of solitary confinement in prisons, with a particular focus on North Carolina. It explains how solitary confinement cannot be squared with state, national, and international human rights laws, and offers a series of recommendations for reform.

“Solitary confinement violates the boundaries of human dignity and justice and should no longer be tolerated in North Carolina or anywhere else,” said Deborah M. Weissman, the Reef C. Ivey II Distinguished Professor of Law at the University of North Carolina School of Law, who served as faculty adviser for the report. “The evidence shows that solitary confinement is not only ineffective at decreasing violence, preserving public safety, or managing scare monetary resources, but more importantly, it often arbitrarily subjects inmates to circumstances that can be described only as torture.”

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Law Enforcement Ignorance of the Law is No Excuse

Posted on in Due Process

by Meghan Jones, ACLU-NC Legal Fellow, and Chris Brook, ACLU-NC Legal Director

Can a police officer’s mistaken interpretation of the law justify a traffic stop?  On Monday, October 6, 2014, the United States Supreme Court will hear oral argument on that question in the case of Heien v. North Carolina.

In 2009, Nicholas Heien was the passenger in a vehicle that had only one operating brake light.  An officer pulled the car over, wrongly believing the vehicle was in violation of the law.  North Carolina plainly requires only one rear brake light, as the North Carolina Court of Appeals recognized in 2011.  That conclusion was so obvious that attorneys for the State did not dispute it before the North Carolina Supreme Court.

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