Hello readers! As the new Reproductive Freedom Organizer at the ACLU of Maine, I am excited to begin working to ensure that all Maine women are able to maintain control over their reproductive rights and choices.
This week the Executive Director of the Immigrant Legal Advocacy Project, Sue Roche and visiting professor at the University of Maine School of Law, Anna Welch co-authored an excellent op-ed in the Portland Press Herald about Maine’s need for a comprehensive federal immigration reform bill.
We received very good news today out of Washington when a federal judge ruled that the National Security Agency’s phone collection program is likely unconstitutional. Although the ruling is stayed pending appeal, the message from the bench was clear and we’re hopeful this is a sign of even bigger things to come in the legal fight over mass government surveillance.
The incredible thing about the information provided by Edward Snowden is that it shows just how incredibly broad and deep the U.S. government's surveilance programs are. There has hardly been a week in the past six months in which we haven't learned new information about what the government has been doing with our private information.
Over the last forty years we have seen an 705% increase in the size of our prison population. With 2.3 million people behind bars, we are now the number one incarcerator in the world – followed by China with 1,640,000 and Russia with 618,600. Furthermore, we have an additional 6.9 million people under some sort of correctional supervision. With our prisons and jails overcrowded, our court systems clogged and corrections budgets soaring, our criminal justice system is maxed out - due largely to low level, non-violent drug offense that carry excessive sentences.
December 10 marks Human Rights Day, an occasion to renew our individual and collective commitments to advancing civil and human rights for all people. This year, Human Rights Day coincides with a worldwide day of remembrance and celebration of the life of Nelson Mandela - an international beacon of human rights who passed away last week.