Sunday, November 11, 2007

Civil Liberties News In Review - week of 11/04/07

Here are some of the stories that stood out during this past week. Check back with Cap City Liberty to catch some of the stories that made the news this week on civil liberties issues in Madison and in the state of Wisconsin.

School discipline and student rights
The Cap Times recaps the area schools’ expulsion numbers. Contact the ACLU of Wisconsin for a copy of our Freedom FAQ on student rights in School Discipline: Suspension and Expulsion.

Student Rights and Military Recruitment
Local antiwar high school students, members of Truth and Alternatives to Militarism and Education, and concerned parents attended a school board meeting this week to voice their concerns about ad space that the Army purchased and posted around area high schools sports facilities. Read the article in the Wisconsin State Journal, and watch the television coverage on NBC 15 and on Channel 3000. Word on the street is that while adult counter-recruitment activists were shown in most of the press coverage, it was the student testimony about their rights to opt-out of being targeted for military recruitment that was most inspiring.

The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel calls out partisanship in the immigration debate. Wisconsin's U.S. Rep. Steve Kagen thinks that federal ID databases, detention camps and guns on the border will make it all better. Read the Appleton Post Cresent article for more on the bill that dems are flocking toward for militarism as immigration reform.

Surveillance Society
Caught on tape!
This week’s big news is that the Madison Metro bus company has released the surveillance tapes on the “wild ride” from earlier this year when a bus driver took off with a passenger hanging on the side mirror. Channel 27 got an interview with the driver and his lawyer in response to the tapes. Former Dane County Supervisor and blogger David Blaska weighs in. Watch the tapes and think about the pros and cons of surveillance. Does viewing the tapes change anyone’s opinions or sympathies about the situation?

Feds soften on Real ID
Despite the softening of the deadlines and rules regarding Real ID, the plan for a defacto national ID card is still flawed. Read more about the national ACLU Privacy and Technology Project.

DeForest cameras view high schools – gym locker room theft
A $72,000 federal grant is paying for 40 surveillance cameras in the DeForest school (video). The cameras are coming in handy after a rash of thefts in a gym locker room. Let’s hope that officers aren’t watching activities behind locker room doors. There’s also a newly proposed bill (PDF) would loosen spending caps for schools’ security costs and make it easier to get more cameras in the future.

Corrections funding and politics
A couple of articles last week can shed some light on the complicated ways that prison beds do or don’t get filled (State prisons may use county jails). Here in Dane County, Falk sets benchmarks to move people through the justice system more quickly, saving taxpayer money. But the raised standards are getting criticism (Courthouse standoff)

Church and State
Church-state ruling has 'quick and dramatic' impact on cases (Cap Times).

Voting Rights
The Madison City Clerk reminds us of voter registration rules in anticipation of the Presidential Preference Election on February 19. And a proposed bill would change the electoral system in Wisconsin with mixed results.

LGBT Rights
Tammy’s statement about ENDA and the sacrifice of transgender rights to its passage. Shouldn’t ENDA be spelled “E-R-A”?

Death Penalty
After the Supreme Court recently halted a Mississippi execution, there have been reactions around the country including an editorial from The Capital Times (Death to the Death Penalty) and a statement from WI Senator Russ Feingold which describe how the use of capital punishment is flawed. Despite the emotional arguments surrounding public discussions of crime, the death penalty has been proven to be unjustly applied in terms of racial and class disparities, problems with court proceedings, and wrongful convictions. No Death Penalty Wisconsin, of which the ACLU of Wisconsin was a supporting organization during the 2006 campaign to fight the pro-death penalty referendum question, also issued a statement. Currently the pro-death penalty Senate Bill 115 (PDF) is stalled in the WI State Senate. Visit the webpage for the ACLU Capital Punishment Project.

Take Action: Be an issue monitor! The ACLU of Wisconsin doesn’t have enough paid staff to watch ALL of the newspapers, television news reports, NPR stories, blog entries and other places where civil liberties issues are discussed. Be our eyes and ears for local/state news and send them to the ACLU of Wisconsin Madison Area Office. Contact the office to volunteer as an issue monitor and let us know what your area of interest is.