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America's Mentally Ill Are Being Treated Behind Bars

Check out this excellent article by Stephanie Mencimer in Mother Jones, which refers to a new report by the Treatment Advocacy Center, a group that works to remove barriers to effective treatment of mental illness throughout the United States. Our nation has long since made the switch from treating the mentally ill in mental treating them (poorly, according to the TAC report) in jails and prisons. Sadly, as Mencimer points out, this vulnerable group is also more likely to be overrepresented in solitary confinement, which has be shown to have incredibly detrimental effects on even otherwise mentally healthy people. They are also much more likely to commit suicide while in custody. The ACLU of Utah is currently working with state and county partners to help connect criminal-justice-involved people with the treatment they need - most often for mental illness and also substance use disorders - and save them from damaging time spent behind bars. To learn more about the policy challenges facing Utah in this area, contact Anna Brower, ACLU of Utah Public Policy Advocate, at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Are More Drug Courts Really The Answer?

An interesting new policy report by the Drug Policy Alliance, a group that advocates for a public health approach to drug policy, questions the long-term efficacy of drug courts in reducing prisoners' return to jail or prison. The report also discusses evidence that drug courts may not be producing the intended or expected cost-savings benefits.

Demonizing children does not improve public safety

01 May 2014 Published in The ACLU of Utah Activist
Putting destructive labels on a child accomplishes nothing positive for the child, his/her family or our communities.

Curious Cop Downloaded Hundreds of Private Prescription Records Because He Could

13 April 2014 Published in The ACLU of Utah Activist
Today, the ACLU and ACLU of Utah filed an amicus brief in support of a Utah paramedic whose Fourth Amendment rights were violated when police swept up his confidential prescription records in a dragnet search. Law enforcement’s disregard for basic legal protections in the case is shocking. 

Send Off Celebration: Utah Stands United!

06 April 2014 Published in Past Events
Monday, April 7, 6 pm, at Library Square in Salt Lake City. Join us for a send-off celebration of the plaintiff couples and legal team in Kitchen v. Herbert as they head to Denver.

Introducing the ACLU's NSA Documents Database

02 April 2014 Published in The ACLU of Utah Activist
The national ACLU has created a complete, and easily searchable, database of documents to help facilitate the public debate on the legality and propriety of the government's surveillance practices.

Only in America: 16-Year-Old Locked Up for the Rest of His Life

30 March 2014 Published in The ACLU of Utah Activist
Juwan Wickware wasn't the shooter. But he and more than 2,500 others nationwide will enter prison as teenagers, grow into adults, and die – all behind bars.

Utah Legislators Stood Up For Fourth Amendment

16 March 2014 Published in The ACLU of Utah Activist
The Utah Legislature was divided this year, but the Fourth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution is one place where legislators found common ground.

Court Hears Arguments in Marriage Equality Case

13 March 2014 Published in The ACLU of Utah Activist
On Wednesday, March 12, 2014, U.S. Federal Judge Kimball heard oral arguments in the ACLU of Utah’s case Evans et al. v. State of Utah et al. We argued that Utah must recognize the marriages of all the same-sex couples who were given county licenses, and legally wed, after a Federal Court decision on December 20, 2013, declared that Utah’s ban on marriage for same-sex couples is unconstitutional. The U.S. Supreme Court issued a stay of that decision on January 6, 2014, halting all further same-sex marriages pending appeal. During that 17 day period over 1,000 couples were legally married. We felt that the hearing went well. The judge asked good questions from both sides and is now considering the arguments. We await his decision with great anticipation. We are grateful for our courageous plaintiffs and our co-counsels, Josh Block of the national ACLU LGBT Project, and the law firm of Strindberg & Scholnick. See some photos of the plaintiffs and attorneys after the hearing >> More information about this case, including all documents filed in court >> Salt Lake Tribune: Utah’s decision to freeze same-sex marriages debated in court (3/12/14) >> Fox 13 Video: Judge to decide if Utah…

Court Schedules Hearing in ACLU of Utah Suit for State to Honor Marriage

06 March 2014 Published in The ACLU of Utah Activist
On February 4, 2014, the ACLU of Utah filed a motion with the federal court seeking an order that the State must immediately recognize marriages of all same-sex couples married in Utah.

To Protect Privacy, Utah Attorney General Gives Away Some of His Power

05 March 2014 Published in The ACLU of Utah Activist
In February 2014, the attorney general for the state of Utah did something remarkable, something that law enforcement officials hardly ever do: He willingly gave away some of his power.

ACLU Argues That Utah's Same-Sex Marriage Ban Demands Heightened Court Scrutiny

05 March 2014 Published in The ACLU of Utah Activist
On March 4, 2014, the ACLU of Utah, the ACLU of Oklahoma, and the ACLU LGBT Project filed an amicus brief in Kitchen v. Herbert on behalf of themselves and 19 other civil rights organizations.

My Liberation Is Bound With Yours

19 February 2014 Published in The ACLU of Utah Activist
A couple of newsletters ago, I discussed the importance of recognizing the interdependence of everyone’s rights.  I ended my thoughts with this quote by Lila Watson, “If you have come here to help me, you are wasting your time.  But if you have come because your liberation is bound up with mine, then let us work together.”

My Big Gay (Il)Legal Wedding

13 February 2014 Published in The ACLU of Utah Activist
The national ACLU is chipping in to help 5 same-sex couples have a Big, Gay, (Il)legal Wedding to highlight the unfair patchwork of state marriage laws and why the freedom to marry is so important.

Take Action Against Mass Government Surveillance

11 February 2014 Published in The ACLU of Utah Activist
You can: support the USA Freedom Act; oppose the FISA Improvements Act; protect people around the globe; and protect encryption standards.

It's Like You're Sold a Dream

30 January 2014 Published in The ACLU of Utah Activist
I lost my drive after my older brother Rufus was sentenced. I didn't care. I didn't trust. That was my attitude.

Lawsuit To Ensure That Utah Honors Marriage Seeks To Protect All

23 January 2014 Published in The ACLU of Utah Activist
We are grateful to all of those who expressed their desire to be plaintiffs in the recently filed lawsuit to ensure that Utah honors marriage. We are deeply committed to ensuring equality for all married same sex couples in Utah, and this case moves that goal forward by seeking to require the State to again honor the marriages of those who relied on licenses that Utah issued. After considerable analysis, we chose not to bring a formal class action so we could move the case forward as quickly as possible. Please know, however, that the result we seek in this case is for Utah to recognize and honor the marriages of all same sex couples with Utah licenses, whether or not they are named plaintiffs. And know that this court case is only one of the ways that we are working to bring marriage equality to everyone throughout Utah and the nation. We would like everyone who contacted us to know that the information and input you provided was invaluable and helped shape the case. There will be many ways in the months ahead that we can all work together to broaden the understanding and education about same sex marriage…

Stripped of Recognition

21 January 2014 Published in The ACLU of Utah Activist
Today, the ACLU filed a lawsuit against Utah to force the state to continue recognizing the marriages of more than 1,000 same-sex couples who were legally married.

Support the USA FREEDOM Act to rein in NSA spying

17 January 2014 Published in The ACLU of Utah Activist
Did you watch President Obama's speech on NSA reforms?  Here is the ACLU analysis and call to support the USA FREEDOM Act to rein in NSA spying.

This Is What Respect for Marriage Looks Like

10 January 2014 Published in The ACLU of Utah Activist
On Friday, Attorney General Holder confirmed that the federal government would continue recognizing the nearly 1,400 marriages issued to same-sex couples in Utah.