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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.

Students! Know Your Rights: A Guide For Utah High School Students

SKYRlrgIn school, young people not only learn about their constitutional rights, but they also see firsthand how those rights may be affected by the actions of others. The ACLU of Utah is dedicated to protecting the constitutional rights of students and to helping students understand their rights in school.

The material provided on this website is for basic informational purposes only. It is not meant to be and should not be taken as legal advice, nor should you rely on this information instead of seeking the advice of an attorney. The legal issues surrounding civil rights and civil liberties are among the most complex in the law, and a person’s rights may vary from case to case depending on small and subtle details. Only a lawyer who has taken the time to become fully aware of the facts in a given case can provide you with sound legal advice.

If you feel your rights have been violated, please let us know the details by filling out a complaint form on our website.

National ACLU links for youth & students

A Guide For Utah High School Students

Other Utah Material

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Utah is Ready for Criminal Justice Reform!

22 February 2015 Published in Articles, Resources, and Position Papers
During this legislative session, one of the most pressing and exciting issues the ACLU of Utah is working on is pushing for a slate of criminal justice reform proposals.

Interview with Varesh Gorabi

22 February 2015 Published in Articles, Resources, and Position Papers
An excerpt from this interview was published in the Liberty Reporter: 2015 Winter Newsletter >> Can you tell me about the positions you hold in the community? I am a member of Peer Court, a restorative justice program for youth. I spend most of my Monday nights doing Peer Court. I am also a part of Youth City Government where we challenge our own bias and perspectives. Why did you start getting involved with Peer Court? I was nominated by a teacher, but the reason I joined Peer Court was to become involved in the community. My mother has always been inspiring, changing people’s lives, really caring about them. She always talks about injustices of the world and of people’s challenges in life. Anyway, I feel I have been more aware, critical and curious because of my mom. Like her, I wanted to actually do something. Knowing about issues is not the same as actually witnessing them or listening to real voices that have gone through these situations. I think I’ve become a better human being, a more understanding one, than I was last year. The youth that I see are like me, and I am changed by them as much…

Interview with Marcelina Kubica

22 February 2015 Published in Articles, Resources, and Position Papers
The following is an interview with Marcelina Kubica, one of the youth activists who helped plan the Youth Leadership and Activism Conference.  Can you tell me about the positions you hold in the community, how you are involved? The top thing would be Peer Court. I’m also an officer in National Honor Society, we do projects out in the valley. Why did you start getting involved with Peer Court?A friend told me about the program my first year of high school. It sounded really interesting, but it was too late to start that year. At the end of the year I did the interviews and I kept on volunteering throughout my high school life. The idea behind Salt Lake Peer Court is we volunteer and kids come from throughout the Salt Lake area and you have to go through an application and interview process and you have to go through training. There are hearings every Monday night at the Matheson Courthouse. And we have youth that are referred to us from Salt Lake City schools and it’s not just high school students, we take middle and elementary students. We see everything from truancy, to tobacco, to bullying. What will happen is that…

Learning to be a Citizen Lobbyist

22 February 2015 Published in Articles, Resources, and Position Papers
Over 90 Utah community members came to the Utah State Capitol on February 2, 2015, to learn how the Utah Legislature works and how to be involved.

Victory! 10th Circuit Protects Free Speech on Utah State Roads

22 February 2015 Published in Articles, Resources, and Position Papers
This article was first published in the Liberty Reporter: 2015 Winter Newsletter >> On December 22, 2014, in a big victory for First Amendment rights, the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals held that the Utah Department of Transportation’s insurance and indemnification requirements for permits to march on state roads violate the constitution and cannot be enforced.  The case, called iMatter  v. UDOT, was brought by groups and individuals, many of them high schoolers, who planned several marches on State Street in Salt Lake City to raise awareness of and promote solutions to climate change.  Though the march organizers obtained event permits from Salt Lake City, they also needed permission from UDOT, since State Street is a state road.  UDOT, in turn, required that anyone seeking a permit to march on a state road obtain a general insurance policy for the event with $1 million per incident and $2 million aggregate coverage.  UDOT also required organizers to sign indemnification agreements to protect UDOT from any lawsuit related to the event.  These polices would have forced organizers to pay hundreds or thousands of dollars for private insurance and exposed them to unknown amounts of costs to defend UDOT from potential lawsuits.  These…

Youth Leadership And Activism Conference A Stunning Success

19 February 2015 Published in Articles, Resources, and Position Papers
This article was first published in the Liberty Reporter: 2015 Winter Newsletter >> On January 24th, the eve of the legislative session, several dozen high school students spent their Saturday learning about the School-to-Prison Pipeline (STPP), which pushes students into the criminal justice system, and basic activist skills to fight it. They trained on how to be a citizen lobbyists and were able to speak to present and former legislators: Representative Rebecca Chavez-Houck, Representative Angela Romero, Senator Aaron Osmond, and former representative and current director of Criminal Justice Advisory Council, David Litvack. Students acted out real-life stories of students who had been harshly punished for minor misbehavior, such as writing a best friend’s name on a desk. They also learned about their rights when facing school discipline, messaging, and how to write an op-ed. In addition to learning about the STPP and how to be an activist, students were able to use their voices that day to speak up for themselves and their peers. They wrote letters to their representatives, they spoke to city council representatives during lunch, and they took part in the “whiteboard project,” where they explained why they wanted to end the STPP and why education is…

A Utah Youth Leader Speaks Out!

19 February 2015 Published in Articles, Resources, and Position Papers
This article was first published in the Liberty Reporter: 2015 Winter Newsletter >> The following is an interview with Varesh Gorabi, one of the youth activists who helped plan the Youth Leadership and Activism Conference  *This is not a full transcript of the interview. Some words have been changed for clarity and to avoid repetitions. Varesh Gorabi, Sophomore at Highland High School What is the School-to-Prison Pipeline and what most concerns you about this issue? The School-to-Prison-Pipeline is the one way tunnel from learning at school to going to prison. It’s shocking how fast one can tumble down this tunnel. Even though the school may not know this, one suspension can harm a child’s life. The funny thing is, I was introduced to this topic just this year, but throughout this learning experience, I have remembered events in my childhood that I have never analyzed further. I remember this one kid, who we all called “troublemaker” in our minds, being suspended from school. We didn’t know why, and we didn’t question it further. “Troublemakers” get in trouble and that’s that. I’m not saying this kid is now a “criminal”, I don’t know where he is now. But to think that one…

Reading Corner: School Resource Officers

28 January 2015 Published in Articles, Resources, and Position Papers
This is a collection of materials to help you understand the issue of the School-to-Prison Pipeline locally and nationally.

Reading Corner: Costs of the School-to-Prison pipeline

22 December 2014 Published in Articles, Resources, and Position Papers
This is a collection of materials to help you understand the issue of the School-to-Prison Pipeline locally and nationally.

Reading Corner: Mass Incarceration Month

24 November 2014 Published in Articles, Resources, and Position Papers
Articles, reports, videos and factsheets.

School-to-Prison Pipeline Vocabulary

09 November 2014 Published in Articles, Resources, and Position Papers
More on the School-to-Prison Pipeline >> To submit questions, monthly theme ideas, or sign-up for email alerts on national and local School-to-Prison pipeline news as well as alerts to new content on the Breaking Down the School to Prison Pipeline blog series, contact Racial Justice Associate, Kathy Abarca. I’ve created a vocabulary list because: 1. Language can be a powerful tool for understanding one’s own experiences 2. For clarity in how I use terms in blog posts that may differ from others. If you do nothing else, please watch this video from Race Forward: The Center for Racial Justice Innovation. This video is under 5 minutes and is a clear and to the point way of understanding the different “levels” of racism. This concept of levels of racism is key to understanding the School-to-Prison pipeline (STPP) and how interpersonal, institutional, and structural racism all work together to form STPP. Without understanding these concepts we cannot have a decent conversation on race, racism, and racial justice. The speaker talks about a new report for about a minute. Forward a minute to get right into the talk about the levels of racism. School Resource Officers: They are often sworn police officers employed by…

Utah Voting and Polling Place Intake Form

03 November 2014 Published in Articles, Resources, and Position Papers
If you had any problem with casting your vote or if you observed a problem at your polling place please fill out this complaint form so that we may identify issues that we might be able to address.

Youth Activist Scholars Will Receive Financial Aid for College in 2015!

29 October 2014 Published in Articles, Resources, and Position Papers
This article was first published in the Liberty Reporter: 2014 Fall Newsletter >> This is the eighth year that the ACLU of Utah will award three $1,000 scholarships to eligible college bound high school seniors who have demonstrated a strong commitment to civil liberties through some form of activism. The scholarship will be applied toward their college education. Past ACLU of Utah scholarship winners came from many parts of Utah including Brigham City, Herrman, Kearns, Logan, Moab, Nephi, Ogden, Orem, Provo, Salt Lake City, and St. George. Their civil liberties work includes programs and activities that advocate for racial diversity, rights of disabled students, women’s equality, LGBTQ rights, freedom of religion, and freedom of expression.  To qualify for the scholarship the student must: Have demonstrated a strong commitment to civil liberties through some form of activism, Be a Utah high school senior planning on entering an accredited college or university as a full-time, degree-seeking student,  Have attained a minimum cumulative GPA of 3.0 on a 4.0 scale. If the GPA is less than 3.0, the student is still eligible, but must submit an explanation for the lower GPA.    Applicants will be judged on the following standards: The strength and…

Marriage Equality Comes to Utah!

28 October 2014 Published in Articles, Resources, and Position Papers
This article was first published in the Liberty Reporter: 2014 Fall Newsletter >> Photos by Gallivan Photography. Top: Marriage Celebration Rally at Library Square, SLC, on October 6. Bottom: Karen McCreary, ACLU of Utah Executive Director, declares, “Today, more than ever, I am proud to be a Utahn!” The freedom to marry for all people finally came to Utah on October 6, when the U.S. Supreme Court denied review in all of the marriage equality cases before it. As a result of that action, same-sex couples in Virginia, Wisconsin, Indiana, Oklahoma and Utah will now be able to marry the partners they love. This was a day of great celebration, not only in the 5 states with pending cases, but across the country, as the day’s decision brought the number of states with the freedom to marry to 30. Marriage equality was a hard fought goal in Utah. In the Utah marriage equality case, Kitchen v. Herbert, the plaintiffs challenged Utah’s Constitutional Amendment 3, which banned same sex couples from marriage. In support of the Kitchen plaintiffs, the ACLU of Utah filed a “friend of the court” brief with the district and appellate courts arguing that heightened level of scrutiny should apply…

Education Not Incarceration: Challenging The Utah School-To-Prison Pipeline

28 October 2014 Published in Articles, Resources, and Position Papers
This article was first published in the Liberty Reporter: 2014 Fall Newsletter >> As part of our Racial Justice work, the ACLU of Utah organized local participation in the 5th Annual National Week of Action Against School Pushout beginning on October 4. Across the country, thousands of activists participated by organizing events or using social media to raise awareness and educate communities about the School-to-Prison Pipeline. This pipeline refers to the overly harsh policies and practices that systematically push students, especially those of color, out of schools, into juvenile justice system, and eventually prison. These policies and practices can take the form of zero tolerance discipline, the misuse of School Resource Officers, and the overuse of suspensions and expulsions. This year the ACLU of Utah, Mayor’s Office of Diversity and Human Rights, and Salt Lake Peer Court participated in the National Week of Action through social media and by planning an event: Education NOT Incarceration. This was the first time anyone in Utah had participated in the National Week of Action! Throughout the week, our three organizations, students, educators, and community activists, tweeted and posted on Facebook to raise awareness and educate our supporters about the School-to-Prison Pipeline. During the…

War Comes Home: The Excessive Militarization of American Policing

28 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

28 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

28 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

28 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

28 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…

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