HARRISBURG, PA. – Voting rights advocates filed a lawsuit today challenging a Pennsylvania law that makes it difficult for voters to vote by absentee ballot. The plaintiffs include nine Pennsylvania residents, all of whom applied for absentee ballots on time but received the ballots either too close to or after Pennsylvania’s restrictive deadline for returning the ballots.
HARRISBURG— The ACLU of Pennsylvania, the Pennsylvania Institutional Law Project, the Abolitionist Law Center, Amistad Law Project, and Schnader Harrison Segal & Lewis LLP filed two federal civil rights lawsuits today challenging the Pennsylvania Department of Corrections’ (DOC) new policy of copying and retaining confidential mail from attorneys to their prisoner clients. The lawsuits, one on behalf of the four organizations and a related one for a DOC prisoner, claim that the practice violates the First Amendment rights of the organizations’ attorneys and DOC prisoners to confidential legal communications.
PITTSBURGH - At its monthly legislative session this evening, a majority of the members of the Pittsburgh Public Schools Board of Directors rejected a proposal to arm the district’s school police officers, effectively ending the idea after three years of debate.
HARRISBURG - Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf signed legislation today to repeal a longstanding mandate to suspend drivers’ licenses of people convicted of crimes unrelated to operation of a vehicle, many of them drug offenses. According to the American Civil Liberties Union of Pennsylvania, the legislation will positively impact more than 20,000 people per year.
YORK - A gay, married man who has been held in immigration detention since January will finally have an opportunity to argue for his release today before an immigration judge, according to a statement released by the American Civil Liberties Union of Pennsylvania and the law firm DLA Piper. Jose “Ivan” Noe Nuñez Martinez was taken into custody by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) on January 31 and has been held in the York County Prison ever since.
PHILADELPHIA - At the opening of trial today, the American Civil Liberties Union argued to a federal court that the Southeastern Pennsylvania Transit Authority’s censorship of advertising by the Center for Investigative Reporting (CIR) is prohibited by the First Amendment’s protection of free speech. The dispute in the case centers around proposed ads that CIR planned to publish on SEPTA vehicles that promoted an investigative report on racial disparities in the home mortgage industry, including in Philadelphia.
PHILADELPHIA, PA — After observing more than 650 bail hearings in the Criminal Justice Center, the American Civil Liberties Union of Pennsylvania has sent a letter to judges who oversee those hearings to demand urgently needed reform. Philadelphia bail commissioners do not follow the law, resulting in poor Philadelphians being routinely incarcerated while they wait for trial because they cannot afford to pay cash bail, while wealthy Philadelphians are able to pay their way out of jail.
PHILADELPHIA — The ACLU of Pennsylvania today released a new report that outlines how Pennsylvania can cut incarceration in half by pursuing reforms to the commonwealth’s drug sentencing laws. The report also includes recommendations to reform the laws that in recent years have led to Pennsylvania having the third-highest per capita rate in the nation of people on parole, probation, or other community supervision.
PHILADELPHIA - On Tuesday, the Pennsylvania Department of Corrections (DOC) continued its near-total lockdown of state prisons, confining most people in the department’s facilities to their cells 24 hours per day and prohibiting mail and visitation. According to the DOC, some facilities had some restrictions lifted over the weekend, and more facilities will lift restrictions throughout this week.
PHILADELPHIA - Today, the Innocence Project filed an ethics complaint to the Disciplinary Board of the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania against Bridget Kirn, a former prosecutor in the Office of the District Attorney of Philadelphia who was lead counsel at the 2016 trial of Anthony Wright, an innocent man who spent more than 25 years in prison. According to the complaint, Kirn facilitated testimony from two Philadelphia police detectives that she likely knew was false, in the face of DNA evidence that cleared Wright and implicated another person from the North Philadelphia neighborhood where the crime occurred.