With 2.23 million people currently behind bars, our prisons and jails are vastly overcrowded, made up of too many people serving sentences for non-violent, low-level drug crimes. We have the dubious distinction of being the number one incarcerator in the world – followed by China with 1.6 million behind bars and Russia with 618,000.
Nearly twelve years have passed since the first prisoner arrived in Guantánamo Bay, making it the longest-standing war prison in U.S. history. Today the prison holds 164 detainees, and it is no less a symbol of our nation’s failure to adhere to the rule of law and human rights than it was in 2002 when it first began housing prisoners.
"In a year of historic victories for LGBT people, this one ranks near the top." So begins the ACLU statement on passage of the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA) in the Senate today.
While the people of Maine have acted to protect LGBT people from being fired or not hired based on their sexual orientation, there is no such law in the majority of states. That's why the passage of a federal bill banning such discrimination is critically importantant.
Victory on 1! Last night the voters of Portland approved Question 1 - legalizing marijuana use by adults - by almost 70%! The people of Portland have sent a message (a resounding message at that!) to lawmakers across the state and the nation that now is the time for reform of our marijuana laws. The War on Marijuana has failed. Our criminal justice system is maxed out, our prisons and jails overcrowded, our budgets strained, and we are no safer for it. Furthermore, we have seen incalculable human costs.
Today I listened as two people who have been together for decades described how their lives have changed since they got married in July. Mostly it's in the details: they save a few hundred dollars each month in health care costs. They no longer cart around a huge pile of paperwork everywhere they go to prove their relationship to each other. They call each other spouse, not partner.