It has been 3 short years since ACLU client Edward Snowden released documents to the media displaying the true power of the PATRIOT Act. He informed America that the National Security Agency had been spying on Americans for years without a warrant or probable cause. Since these revelations, the Act has been amended many times, with the Freedom Act just last year. Now Senator John McCain has attempted to yet again expand the powers of this Act.
Boston College Law Magazine has an amazing profile of our legal director, Zach Heiden, and his work to reform solitary confinement in Maine. The article perfectly demonstrates Zach's brilliant advocacy combined with his grit and stamina. It's also a good reminder of the value in taking a step back to reflect on how much we really can make change - and that we should stay the course, even when skeptics suggest it's time to call it a day.
Last night, I testified before the Portland City Council, urging councilors to approve a transgender-inclusive health care policy for city employees. I am happy to announce that the council voted unanimously to approve this important change.
On Saturday, we joined our friends to march in the Pride Portland! parade. In the wake of the tragic Pulse nightclub shooting, we marched in solidarity with the LGBTQ community, to call for equal rights for all people and to honor the lives of those lost. Together, we will build a world in which all people can live and love openly and free from discrimination.
While 2016 has ushered in a disappointing escalation of anti-trans rhetoric, there have been some steps forward as well. This month, in particular, has seen historic momentum in the fight for trans rights.
We went into the second regular session of the 127th Legislature looking to build on the successes of last year, when we worked to ban the shackling of pregnant women in correctional custody and to reduce some first-time, low-level drug possession charges. We faced a governor that seems hell-bent on ramping up the failed law enforcement approach, while denying people access to the treatment and recovery services they need.
Today we can say we have made even more progress toward ending Maine’s overreliance on punishment and incarceration as a way to fix societal problems.
LD 1554 became law today without the signature of the governor. The law makes possession of heroin and other drugs a misdemeanor rather than a felony. Both houses of the Legislature voted overwhelmingly in favor of the bill.
The final version of LD 1554 was amended to make first and subsequent charges for low-level possession – including less that 200 mg of heroin – a misdemeanor, unless the individual has a prior furnishing or trafficking conviction. The amendment had the support of bipartisan legislators, Attorney General Janet Mills, and advocates for drug law reform.
Yesterday, the Bangor Daily News ran a helpful update on the status of efforts in the Legislature to change Maine's approach to drug use. We're thankful the Legislature recognizes the value of treatment over jail, even if the governor doesn't.
Gov. Paul LePage says he’s given up on working to ease the state’s drug crisis. Fortunately, lawmakers are still at work on the issue — and the governor’s lack of involvement could lead to a better outcome.
Earlier this month, Gov. LePage signed LD 1639, “An Act to Implement the Recommendations of the Intergovernmental Pretrial Justice Task Force,” into law. The ACLU of Maine supported the bill, which will improve Maine’s pretrial system by making reforms to the bail system and the imposition of fines on indigent defendants.