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Protecting the Bill of Rights in Utah since 1958

Articles, Resources, and Position Papers

Following is a partial list of ACLU of Utah articles, resources and position papers. Additional materials can be found on our issue pages.

War Comes Home: The Excessive Militarization of American Policing

29 October 2014 Published in Articles, Resources, and Position Papers
This article was first published in the Liberty Reporter: 2014 Fall Newsletter >> In June, the ACLU published a report showing that excessive police militarization is a nationwide trend, and the time has come to deescalate. After obtaining and analyzing thousands of documents from police departments around the country, including from several agencies in Utah, the ACLU released the report War Comes Home: The Excessive Militarization of American Policing. The ACLU focused on more than 800 SWAT raids conducted by law enforcement agencies in 20 states (including Utah) and on the agencies’ acquisition of military weaponry, vehicles, and equipment. The report revealed that in Utah and around the country, heavily-armed SWAT teams are raiding people’s homes in the middle of the night, often just to search for drugs. Our neighborhoods are not warzones, and police officers should not be treating us like wartime enemies. And yet, every year, billions of dollars worth of military equipment flows from the federal government to state and local police departments – departments that then use these wartime weapons in everyday policing.  Indeed, under the federal 1033 program (1033), created ostensibly to encourage aggressive enforcement of the War on Drugs, and later to combat terrorism,…

Jury Still Out on “Justice Reinvestment” Effort

29 October 2014 Published in Articles, Resources, and Position Papers
This article was first published in the Liberty Reporter: 2014 Fall Newsletter >> It’s been nine months since Governor Gary Herbert, in his State of the State address, called for reform of Utah’s criminal justice system.   After hours and hours of data collection, number crunching, policy research and public input, the Commission on Criminal and Juvenile Justice (CCJJ), assisted by analysts from the Pew Public Safety Performance Project, has settled on some reform recommendations meant to bend Utah’s prison population trend downward.   We are happy to report that CCJJ’s recommendations could take a big bite out of one of Utah’s big prison population drivers: parole and probation revocations. The Department of Corrections (UDC) is dramatically revamping how Adult Probation & Parole (AP&P) agents engage with those under state supervision in the community.  UDC is working with substance abuse and mental health treatment providers to ensure that probationers and parolees get the treatment they need to safely and productively reenter community life. Less encouraging is CCJJ’s work to address Utah’s other primary prison population driver: length of stay. Compared to ten years ago, Utah state prisoners are staying longer in prison for the same crimes. There is no evidence that…

Challenge to Unconstitutional UDOT Policy Heard At 10th Circuit

29 October 2014 Published in Articles, Resources, and Position Papers
This article was first published in the Liberty Reporter: 2014 Fall Newsletter >> On October 1, 2014, the 10th Circuit heard argument in the State’s appeal of the ACLU of Utah’s federal district court victory in iMatter v. UDOT, in which the court held unconstitutional the Utah Department of Transportation’s policy of requiring people to buy insurance to hold parades on state roads, mainly because there was no exception for people who could not afford such insurance.  The court also struck down UDOT’s requirement that parade organizers indemnify the state against lawsuits.  Below is a travelogue by John Mejia, who attended the argument in Denver, Colorado. Tuesday, September 30 - Evening: I arrive at Denver Airport.  Is that a live rock band playing in a beer garden in the terminal?  I’m certainly not in Salt Lake anymore! I walk to dinner meeting with Stewart Gollan, our co-counsel from the Utah Legal Clinic, and his crew.  Stewart is going to argue the case -I’m there as second chair and professional note-passer.  Stewart wants to make sure that we’ve gone over every theory and potential question that he might get from the panel.  Believe it or not, I think we’ve done so…

Salt Lake County Settles Lawsuit Regarding Immigration Detention Policies

29 October 2014 Published in Articles, Resources, and Position Papers
This article was first published in the Liberty Reporter: 2014 Fall Newsletter >> Enrique Uroza and Salt Lake County recently settled a civil-rights lawsuit against the County and Sheriff Jim Winder. Mr. Uroza alleged that County jail officials had unlawfully detained him to investigate his immigration status in the summer of 2011.  Mr. Uroza, represented by the ACLU of Utah, cooperating attorney Kent Morgan, and Latham & Watkins, LLP, brought the action after the Salt Lake County Metro Jail and, later, the federal government, held him for a total of 46 days after he had posted bail.    As part of the settlement, Salt Lake County agreed to permanently end its “SB81 procedure,” under which it did not allow detainees whom its jail officials suspected of being undocumented immigrants to be released for 48 hours. The County conceded that the jail’s SB81 procedure was unconstitutionally implemented as it applied to Mr. Uroza, which was an unintended consequence of the jail’s attempt to comply with the State Legislature’s SB81 bill enacted in 2008.  The ACLU opposed that bill because it unfairly targeted undocumented immigrants and undercut the ability of the federal government to regulate immigration. The County suspended the policy in…

ACLU of Utah Works to Advance Equity in Granite School District

29 October 2014 Published in Articles, Resources, and Position Papers
This article was first published in the Liberty Reporter: 2014 Fall Newsletter >> The ACLU of Utah recently announced a settlement that we helped reach between the family of David Phan and Granite School District.  After David tragically took his life in front of his middle school in late 2012, the ACLU of Utah represented his family in a complaint with the U.S. Department of Education raising concerns about whether the school district was complying with its duties under federal statute to protect all students regardless of their sex and race.  We also assisted David’s family to file a complaint with the federal Office of Family Compliance with regard to their concerns about how the district was handling David’s private records. After much work, discussion, and reflection, the parties agreed that the best way to resolve the complaints was for the school district to agree to enlist the help of the Equity Assistance Center in Denver, Colorado.  The Center is funded by the U.S. Department of Education, and specializes in advancing equal educational opportunity by helping school districts in the areas of race, gender, and national origin equity.  The school district agreed to work with the Center to develop new…

Volunteer Highlight: Margie Nash, Paralegal

29 October 2014 Published in Articles, Resources, and Position Papers
This article was first published in the Liberty Reporter: 2014 Fall Newsletter >> Recently, Margie Nash decided to begin a new phase in her life. She was already an accomplished educator and grant writer for environmental youth learning programs; she has a B.A. in Social Work and a Masters in Special Education and Early Childhood Education. She decided to enter the legal profession and started with the Salt Lake Community College’s Paralegal program. She applied for an internship position with the ACLU of Utah and began working with us in January 2014.  Her main responsibility has been to process 70 - 100 requests for legal assistance a month. As part of our legal team, she and other interns review the requests which come in the form of letters, complaint forms, and emails; categorize the issue, enter the information in a database, and prepare a summary for an attorney to review. She then follows the instructions of the attorney to respond appropriately  to the prospective clients and does research on a variety of legal questions. Margie’s dedication to her work, and commitment to providing support for the ACLU legal team and those applying for assistance, was apparent from the beginning of…

ACLU Supporters Make All the Difference

29 October 2014 Published in Articles, Resources, and Position Papers
This article was first published in the Liberty Reporter: 2014 Fall Newsletter >> We the People... The framers of the Constitution did not use this phrase lightly.  It applies to this day, not just to the Constitution, but to all those who make a difference in protecting the civil liberties we so often take for granted -- but that today are under unprecedented attack.   If you already support the ACLU, you can count yourself among those who advocate for a vibrant and healthy democracy, one where all voices are heard.  We are grateful to you for your generosity and hope that you will consider a special gift today.  If you are reading this newsletter to become better informed, we hope that you join our family by making an investment in the ACLU and thus a more free and just society for all. Please consider making a gift today via our web site www.aclu.org/secure/support-aclu-utah or by sending a check or filling out the credit card information, with the enclosed remittance envelope. There is an ever expanding need to defend our Constituional rights. Thank you on behalf of all those whose voice would not be heard without your help! ACLU of…

Leaving a Legacy: A Gift to Future Generations

29 October 2014 Published in Articles, Resources, and Position Papers
This article was first published in the Liberty Reporter: 2014 Fall Newsletter >> When you consider the legacy you would like to leave to society, you may think of children who will enrich our world in so many ways, contributions you’ve made through your chosen career path, or engagement you’ve had with causes that are just.   Please know that as an ACLU supporter, you are a valued part of a movement that was born almost 100 years ago in 1920.  It is an organization with staying power, an organization that will be here for the long haul to protect our civil liberties. Regardless of which political party is in power, regardless of where in the US civil liberties are being eroded, the ACLU will be there to defend our constitutional rights! As you reflect on the values you share with ACLU – fairness, liberty, justice, equality, tolerance – and the legacy you would like to leave, please remember just how important your participation in the ACLU is.  The funding for our work depends heavily on individual supporters. Please consider leaving a bequest or other planned gift to the ACLU today and to future generations so that they can help…

Reading Corner: Introduction to the School-to-Prison Pipeline

08 October 2014 Published in Articles, Resources, and Position Papers
More on the ACLU of Utah’s work on the School-to-Prison Pipeline >> This is a collection of material to help you understand the issue of the School-to-Prison Pipeline locally and nationally. Civil Rights Data Collection Snapshot: School Discipline (PDF) >>  ACLU and the school to prison pipeline >> Eliminating Excessive and Unfair Exclusionary Discipline in Schools Policy Recommendations for Reducing Disparities (PDF) >>  “From Fingerpaint to Fingerprints: The School-to-Prison Pipeline in Utah,” a report by the Utah S.J. Quinney College of Law, University of Utah, Public Policy Clinic >> Fact sheets: School Discipline Myths and Facts (PDF) >> Positive Discipline (PDF) >> Who’s Getting Pushed Out (PDF) >> What’s the Problem with Pushout? (PDF) >>What’s the Problem with Pushout? (PDF) >>

From Fingerpaint to Fingerprints: The School-to-Prison Pipeline in Utah

07 October 2014 Published in Articles, Resources, and Position Papers
In the first report of its kind in the state, students at the University of Utah S.J. Quinney College of Law used recently released U.S. Department of Education data to examine school discipline rates in Utah. Their findings indicate that Utah students are being disciplined in extraordinarily high numbers starting in elementary school.

What Should Utah’s Next Prison Look Like?

10 July 2014 Published in Articles, Resources, and Position Papers
This article was first published in the Liberty Reporter: 2014 Summer Newsletter >> What Should Utah’s Next Prison Look Like? ...and more importantly, what should Utah’s ENTIRE CRIMINAL JUSTICE SYSTEM look like? Here’s the short answer to both of those questions: smaller, more humane, and more efficient than the Utah State Prison in Draper...with a design that is driven by the strong, abundant research about crime, punishment, and policy that has emerged in the twenty five years since Utah built its last prison facility in Gunnison.   Ever since the state’s Prison Relocation and Development Authority (PRADA) got seriously serious last year about moving the prison in Draper, many Utahns have been focused on the “Development” part of PRADA. Plenty of members of the public have expressed concerns - directly to the PRADA members, as well as in the Editorial pages of the Deseret News and Salt Lake Tribune - that the relocation is driven more by monetary interest in redeveloping the prison site than by any real need to improve the prison itself.   The ACLU of Utah has no position on whether the Utah State Prison should move from its current location. However, we do believe that a relocation presents an incredible…

VICTORY! Court Limits Enforcement of “Show Me Your Papers” Law

10 July 2014 Published in Articles, Resources, and Position Papers
This article was first published in the Liberty Reporter: 2014 Summer Newsletter >> La Raza v. Utah - On June 18, a federal district court issued a decision blocking several components of Utah’s HB 497, an Arizona-style anti-immigrant law passed in 2011 that threatened the basic civil rights of all Utahns.  In its order, the court blocked key provisions of the law that would have allowed police to arrest certain potentially deportable immigrants and that would have criminalized everyday activities, such as driving an undocumented immigrant to the store. The order also severely limited implementation of several provisions of the law.  The court clarified that the provision authorizing police to demand “papers” of those they think may be in the country without authorization does not authorize police to stop or detain an individual simply to verify his or her immigration status. The court also made clear that the law does not require Utahns to carry identification with them at all times.  Archie Archuleta of the Utah Coalition of La Raza, a plaintiff in the lawsuit, said, “The order reinforces a simple truth: No one should fear being charged with a misdemeanor or felony simply for driving her parent to the grocery…

Bill of Rights Celebration Honors Civil Liberties Champions, Is Great Success!

10 July 2014 Published in Articles, Resources, and Position Papers
This article was first published in the Liberty Reporter: 2014 Summer Newsletter >>  The 2014 Bill of Rights Breakfast Celebration was a great success! Over 350 guests joined us to celebrate the civil liberties champions in our community and to lend their support to our important work.   We were inspired by the stories of our awardees, all of whom helped to illustrate that, truly, “civil liberties are for everybody.” Our speakers and awardees represented so many of the vital aspects of what the ACLU does and who we protect, no matter a person’s background, race, religion or sexuality.   Molly Prince spoke on behalf of the Utah Prisoner Action Network, our Torch of Freedom Awardee, about how much she values the work of the ACLU in helping her family and the other families involved with UPAN to advocate for their incarcerated loved ones.   Our Mickey Duncan Awardee, Randy Richards, shared his experiences as the defense attorney for the Ogden Trece gang and Matthew David Stewart. He also highlighted the importance of the ACLU’s work in defending those in our community who have been marginalized or ostracized because of society’s stigma.   And finally, Tony Milner, one of the plaintiffs in our Evans v.…

Utah Fire Fighters Victim of Fourth Amendment Violations

10 July 2014 Published in Articles, Resources, and Position Papers
This article was first published in the Liberty Reporter: 2014 Summer Newsletter >> On April 14, the ACLU of Utah and the national ACLU’s Speech, Privacy, and Technology Project, filed a legal 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.   The United Fire Authority (UFA) is Utah’s largest fire agency, with 26 fire stations in communities surrounding Salt Lake City. Last year, some UFA employees discovered that several vials of morphine in ambulances based at three fire stations had been emptied of medication. Suspecting theft, they called the police. At this point, one would expect police to interview firefighters and paramedics with access to ambulances at those three stations and try to draw up a reasonable list of suspects. But one detective had a different idea.   Soon after receiving the theft report, a detective with the Cottonwood Heights Police Department logged into the Utah Controlled Substances Database and downloaded the prescription histories of all 480 UFA employees. The database tracks patients’ prescriptions for medications used to treat a long list of common medical conditions, and the records can reveal extremely sensitive health information. Unlike…

Arguments at the Tenth Circuit in Kitchen v. Herbert: A Travelogue

10 July 2014 Published in Articles, Resources, and Position Papers
This article was first published in the Liberty Reporter: 2014 Summer Newsletter >> By John Mejia, ACLU of Utah Legal Director  It’s not every day that one gets a chance to see history being made, so I couldn’t turn down the opportunity to see the oral arguments in the appeal in Kitchen v. Herbert, in which Utah’s ban on marriage between same sex couples was struck down.    The plaintiffs in this case are Derek Kitchen, Moudi Sbeity, Karen Archer, Kate Call, Laurie Wood, and Kody Partridge. They are represented by attorneys with the Salt Lake City law firm Magleby & Greenwood. The ACLU of Utah and the ACLU LGBT Project filed a friend-of-the court brief on their behalf and on behalf of numerous civil rights organizations (both in the district court and in the Tenth Circuit.)  Here’s a real-time account of my trip to the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals in Denver on April 10.  5:00 am – I make it to the SLC airport.  The early bird gets a seat in the courtroom, but it’s still too early! 8:30 am – I arrive at Byron White Courthouse in downtown Denver.   It is really a beautiful place, in the…

Utah Unites For Marriage

10 July 2014 Published in Articles, Resources, and Position Papers
This article was first published in the Liberty Reporter: 2014 Summer Newsletter >> The ACLU of Utah is proud to be a founding member of a new coalition Utah Unites for Marriage which promotes the freedom to marry.  Utah Unites for Marriage, is a growing group of diverse state and national organizations, faith, business and civil leaders, and everyday Utahns. It has initiated a statewide public education campaign to broaden the conversation about why marriage matters to all couples and their families.  This campaign comes on the heels of a federal court ruling that granted the freedom to marry on December 20, 2013. The U.S. Supreme Court, on January 6, 2014, temporarily halted marriages from taking place while the state challenged the decision. While the litigation weaves its way through the federal court system, Utah Unites for Marriage will grow the grassroots network of people throughout the state committed to ensuring this basic freedom is soon available to everyone in the state.  “The ACLU of Utah is excited to be a partner in this campaign,” said Karen McCreary, executive director. “It provides a wonderful way to share the stories of loving and committed same-sex couples and their families and friends with…

Racially Just Utah

10 July 2014 Published in Articles, Resources, and Position Papers
 This article was first published in the Liberty Reporter: 2014 Summer Newsletter >> A New Coalition Championing Racial Equity In 2013, the ACLU of Utah held a public event, to present on our current racial justice programs. Community members attending felt a need to have a wider discussion on systemic racial injustice in Utah. A diverse group of several dozen came together for the next meeting bringing their concerns over problems of racism in Utah and their desire to mobilize so that realistic solutions could be explored. Consequently a new multicultural and multiracial coalition was established to work towards racial equity in Utah.  In early 2014, the coalition became Racially Just Utah, reflecting the coalition’s agreed mission: to positively and proactively ensure racial equity in Utah through policy, accountability, and education. The coalition holds open meetings once a month and has created teams to help create a platform to implement ideas and goals.   For more information about Racially Just Utah, and to sign up for the email list, visit https://groups.google.com/forum/#!forum/Racially-Just-Utah

Staff Changes At the ACLU of Utah

10 July 2014 Published in Articles, Resources, and Position Papers
Amy O’Connor, Development Director Amy joined our staff in April as development director with more than 25 years of nonprofit experience.  After earning a master’s degree in biology from the University of Utah, she directed the membership growth and outreach of the Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance from 1988 to 1996. She started her own consulting business and served hundreds of non-profits as an organization development consultant through 2013. We are delighted to have Amy join our staff with her wealth of professional experience and passion for a more just society. Anna Brower, Public Policy Advocate Anna has been with the ACLU of Utah since 2007. Prior to her recent transition to this policy role, she served as our development director for six years. Before joining the ACLU, Anna worked extensively in the non-profit and public sectors in Denver, Colo. She holds a degree in journalism from the University of Denver, and will complete the University of Utah’s Executive MPA program in August 2014. Her focus includes the prison relocation, the state’s system-wide review of criminal justice practices, advocating for female prisoners, and pushing for reforms to the use of solitary confinement in Utah. Kathy Abarca, Racial Justice Project Associate Kathy first joined the…

Court Orders Recognition of Marriages, State Appeals

09 July 2014 Published in Articles, Resources, and Position Papers
This article was first published in the Liberty Reporter: 2014 Summer Newsletter >> On May 19, the federal judge in Evans v. Utah ordered the state to recognize the marriages of same-sex couples who were legally married in Utah after a federal court struck down a state ban, but before the U.S. Supreme Court temporarily halted additional marriages from taking place. Over 1,000 same-sex couples married in Utah during that time period. The Evans case was brought by four married same sex couples represented by the American Civil Liberties Union LGBT Project, the ACLU of Utah, and Strindberg & Scholnick, LLC. While the Tenth Circuit temporarily put the judge’s order on hold, we are hopeful that the hold will be brief. “Our clients, like over 1,000 other same-sex couples, were legally married and those marriages cannot now be taken away from them,” said John Mejia, legal director of the ACLU of Utah. “We are confident that the appellate court will uphold the district court’s well reasoned and thorough order making that clear.” In his ruling, Judge Dale A. Kimball wrote: “The State has placed Plaintiffs and their families in a state of legal limbo with respect to adoptions, child care and…

War Comes Home: The Excessive Militarization of American Policing

24 June 2014 Published in Articles, Resources, and Position Papers
A new ACLU report shows that excessive police militarization is a nationwide trend, and the time has come to deescalate.