Many schools in Maine are getting ready to open their doors this week for the start of a new year, and here at the ACLU of Maine we’re getting ready to open our resources up to students, teachers, and educators interested in learning more about civil liberties and civil rights.
I spent this past weekend in Downeast Maine, tabling at the 40th Annual Machias Wild Blueberry Festival. I drove through Penobscot, Hancock, and Washington counties and arrived in the Machias area late Friday afternoon.
In 2012, the Portland Police Department acquired a Lenco BearCat, which is essentially an armored, four-wheeled mini-tank with a turret and spaces to fire guns out the sides. The $270,000 price tag paid for by a federal Port Security Grant.
After that acquisition, Lewiston inherited Portland’s old M113 Armored Personnel Carrier, which is the same machine used by the U.S. military in the jungles of Vietnam.
The tragic killing of unarmed teenager Michael Brown has raised many questions for the community of Ferguson, as well as the entire nation. From the ACLU’s perspective there are many civil liberties issues at play, which has prompted an immediate response both from our affiliate in Missouri as well as the entire ACLU nationwide.
Recently, two pro-choice groups in Texas released audio evidence of anti-abortion leaders encouraging their activists to track the license plates of clients who access the abortion clinics they protest. The audio, found here, was recorded during an August 4, 2014 Texas Alliance for Life training.
This Friday a new youth curfew law, one of the strictest in the nation, will go into effect in Baltimore. It will require unaccompanied children under the age of 14 to be indoors by 9pm and 14, 15 and 16-year-olds to be indoors by 10pm on weekdays and 11 pm on weekends and during the summer. Children found out after the curfew will be picked up by police and brought to one of two curfew centers where the child's parents will then be called.
Gov. LePage announced today that he is pushing forward with a plan to subject people with prior drug felony convictions to drug tests before they can receive Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) benefits. There's not much I can say about Gov. LePage's proposal that Aasif Mandvi didn't say best in this amazing Daily Show clip:
Another win has been declared for reproductive rights this week. On Monday, a federal judge declared an Alabama law that restricted women's access to abortion was unconstitutional. HB 57 required that doctors performing abortions have admitting privileges at local hospitals. The bill, similar in nature to bills in Texas and Wisconsin, would have forced three out of five abortion providers in the state to cease providing abortions.
Perhaps one of the most insidious aspects of our prison system is that even after serving their sentence, the majority of former offenders find themselves unable to extricate themselves from the system. In addition to having the dubious honor of being the largest incarcerator in the world, the United States also has the highest rate of recidivism of any country in the world. According to the Bureau of Justice Statistics, over two-thirds of people released from prison will be rearrested within three years.