Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Civil Liberties News In Review - 01/08/2008

Wear Orange on Friday - Close Guantanamo!.

Happy New Year from the ACLU of Wisconsin, Madison Area Office. Check out some of the civil liberties related news that has been making headlines this week.

Criminal Justice
The problems related to sending 17-year-olds to adult prisons have been brought to light by the Wisconsin Council on Children and Families and may find its way into the legislature in connection with a controversial tax on video games. Sending youth through the juvenile justice system rather than through the adult courts would come at an extra cost and proponents of the change don’t want it to fail due to lack of funding. However critics of the tax proposal decry the connection between video game use and youth criminality. Get the full scoop on the debate here.

Death Penalty
There is a lot of discussion on the death penalty in the news lately. The Supreme Court heard a case on lethal injection – check out the NPR story for a good Q&A on the issues at hand. Anti-death penalty activists say that lethal injection is tantamount to cruel and unusual punishment because injected drugs, administered by prison personnel rather than doctors, can be easily botched in the procedure. Conservative judges on the court questioned evidence provided, but are hesitant to tie the matter up in the courts (check out the New York Times article on the arguments). Senator Feingold reminds us to consider the flaws in the use of the death penalty while executions are on hold, waiting for the court’s decisions to come. John Nichols
desribes leading Presidential candidates’ positions on the death penalty
. Who identifies the racism and classism in the system and who are capital punishment apologists might surprise you.

There were some recent articles to update voters on upcoming ballots. There’s an update on who is running for the Dane County Board, and the MMSD School Board. The State Journal warns that the school board races that are going uncontested is bad for democracy and describes why community members my be hesitant to run. And finally there is an update on which names will be on the ballot for the Presidential preference primary and what role the Wisconsin vote will play in the big picture of primaries across the country.

Representative Steve Kagen is seeking feedback from his Wisconsin constituents about their feelings on immigration policy. Kagen has taken a hard line on immigration which prompted his trip to the US-Mexico border to see first-hand where there are holes in the increasingly militarized fence. His stance on immigration also inspired his work on the SAVE Act of 2007 which would increase efforts to build a fence, militarize the border, create Real ID related databases to verify identity and more.

Anyone who wants to voice their opinions on Kagen’s feedback page could refer to the national ACLU’s FAQ on why we work for the rights of immigrants, from the Palmer raids to post-9/11 racial profiling. The FAQ shows that while the government has the responsibility for establishing and protecting its borders, it also must have immigration policies that are without discrimination. The Constitution protects the rights of “persons,” not just citizens.

Respondents can also bring attention to the cost and conditions at the detention centers that have been built to lock up the so-called illegals, including families with small children.

Real ID
Anyone gotten a brand new drivers license yet this year? You’ll be paying more at the DMV, thanks to the need to start paying for the Real ID program. Real ID isn’t a reality yet, but our state is already in line to start paying for this unfunded federal mandate. Find out more about why Real ID is a real nightmare.