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Articles, Resources, and Position Papers

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

KYR sq 350Know Your Rights

View the ACLU of Utah's latest "Know Your Rights" Advisories on a variety of common topics. Click on the image at right.

The Deadliest Year: Map of Officer-involved Fatal Shootings

14 May 2019 Published in Articles, Resources, and Position Papers
Read the article, "The Deadliest Year" (link) (PDF) Review infographics and maps of the 2018 incidents (PDF)

COVER STORY: The Deadliest Year (Spring 2019 Liberty Reporter)

14 May 2019 Published in Articles, Resources, and Position Papers
Review infographics about the 2018 incidents (PDF) View an interactive map of the 2018 incidents ...from the Spring 2019 Liberty Reporter Officer-involved shootings increased three-fold in Utah in 2018, but why? A cell phone.A silver pellet gun.A screwdriver.A .45-caliber handgun. These were the objects found with the bodies of four of the 19 people killed by law enforcement officers in Utah last year. In each case, officers fearing for their lives or the lives of others, shot and killed the person holding the item. After the shootings, the objects were recovered, cataloged, and more details about them emerged. A screwdriver was “modified.” A knife was 10 inches long. Sometimes, the investigations revealed how police misidentified non-lethal objects as dangerous weapons. A perceived gun was actually a cell phone. What looked like a rifle became a realistic-looking BB gun. When violence occurs and someone dies, every detail is important to try to understand what happened.  These objects, both lethal and harmless, joined the complex narrative that grows around each shooting, which police departments call Officer-Involved Critical Incidents (OICI). Add in body camera footage, witness interviews, and social media commentary, and the events become tragic, self-contained stories unfolding on lawns, sidewalks, and parking…

Voting is Fundamental (Spring 2019 Liberty Reporter)

14 May 2019 Published in Articles, Resources, and Position Papers
A new staff position and statewide campaign underscore our commitment to voting rights in Utah. Last summer, the ACLU of Utah staff gathered for an all-day retreat to select our top goal for the coming two years. After considering the many civil rights and individual freedoms currently under threat, a clear leader emerged: the protection and promotion of voting rights.  By adopting this goal, we aim to build on our recent victories in voting rights, including the passage of legislation in 2018—after a decade of trying—that made Election Day Registration (EDR) permanent and statewide. During the November 2018 midterms, the first major election where all Utahns could register to vote and cast a ballot on Election Day, more than 34,000 people were added to the voter rolls using this common sense approach to expand access to the ballot box. The best part: These new voters are already registered for the next election.  Our advocacy also includes collaborating with Lt. Governor Spencer Cox and the State Elections Office to reduce obstacles to voting and overcome barriers that arise. After we fielded a dozen voting complaints during the most recent election, we were fortunate to have the effective cooperation of the Elections…

Meet Angelica Guzman (Spring 2019 Liberty Reporter)

14 May 2019 Published in Articles, Resources, and Position Papers
With degrees in political science and human rights law, Angelica is committed to social justice work. The ACLU of Utah’s newest staff member, Angelica Guzman, is a force to be reckoned with. Driven by a “Don’t tell me I can’t do it, because I can and I will,” attitude, Angelica has already put her considerable knowledge of immigrant and refugee-specific issues and her fluency in Spanish to good use. “A big part of my wanting to join this incredible team was my desire to do more for underrepresented communities,” she said. “And to use my knowledge of immigrant and refugee justice, as well as my training in human rights law, to help the ACLU in any way possible.” A native of Mexico, Angelica earned an undergraduate degree in political science and international studies from the University of Utah and later completed a Master of Laws in Saarland, Germany, in the field of International and Human Rights Law. Prior to the ACLU, she worked as a data manager and administrative assistant at the English Skills Learning Center in Salt Lake City. Angelica also interned at Catholic Community Services in the refugee resettlement and housing departments.  While the ACLU of Utah has…

ACLU on the Hill (Spring 2019 Liberty Reporter)

14 May 2019 Published in Articles, Resources, and Position Papers
Our team tracked 100+ bills during the 2019 Utah Legislative Session, while focusing on these nine ACLU of Utah priorities. Download this document (PDF) ...from the Spring 2019 Liberty Reporter #1. Protecting Digital PrivacyH.B. 57 Electronic Information or Data Privacy This landmark bill makes Utah the first state to add warrant protections for digital information stored by third parties like cell phone carriers and cloud-based servers. This means police need a warrant to search data stored on a remotely-located Google Drive or Dropbox account, just like they would for a computer in your home. This innovative law builds on the U.S. Supreme Court’s 2018 decision in Carpenter v. U.S., an ACLU case which required warrants for location-based data. H.B. 57, however, goes further to protect personal data stored on third-party servers.  #2. Standing Firm on Reproductive FreedomH.B. 136 Abortion AmendmentsH.B. 166 Down Syndrome Nondiscrimination Abortion Act This year the Utah Legislature passed two anti-abortion bills. However, we are confident that neither bill will become law. To stop H.B. 136, we joined the Planned Parenthood Association of Utah to file a lawsuit on April 10 in federal district court to prevent the bill’s 18-week abortion ban from taking effect (see, “See…

Campaign Mode (Spring 2019 Liberty Reporter)

14 May 2019 Published in Articles, Resources, and Position Papers
We launched a dozen efforts to make it easier for Utahns to vote in 2018.Here are three examples of how we made a difference. (1) Eight days before the election, we learned that Utah was one of two states where Uber and Lyft weren’t offering discounted rides to the polls due to confusion about a state law against bribing people to vote. After we called the State Elections Office and a reporter at FOX13, a state attorney quickly declared that free rides to the polls were not illegal in Utah, resulting in new publicity about the availability of this helpful service. (2) As Utahns received their mail-in ballots, we launched a “No Stamp? No Problem” social media campaign to inform voters living in the 18 Utah counties without pre-paid return postage—including Utah and Weber counties—that the U.S. Postal Service would still deliver their unstamped ballots. By targeting younger voters who often don’t own or use stamps, our goal was to remove a crucial barrier to voting.  We received media attention and responses from across the state, with one Facebook post (see image at right) shared 143 times to reach 12,497 people.  (3) After conducting a phone survey of county clerks…

New Focus on Reentry Reform (Spring 2019 Liberty Reporter)

14 May 2019 Published in Articles, Resources, and Position Papers
If we want to reduce mass incarceration, we also need to fix probation and parole. The latest state corrections data indicates that mass incarceration is increasingly driven by people returning to prison for probation and parole violations, not for committing new crimes. With this trend in mind, Utah’s Campaign for Smart Justice will focus more attention in 2019 on reforming Utah’s probation and parole process.  In 2017, parole violations made up 51 percent of all admissions to prison in Utah, while probation violations accounted for another 25 percent of admissions—meaning that these community supervision violations accounted for three-fourths of all prison admissions. Many of these people return to prison for technical violations, which means that they broke a parole or probation rule—like missing a meeting or curfew—but they did not commit a new crime. Another study tracking groups of parolees showed that 46 percent of one cohort returned to prison within a year of release due to technical parole violations. To address these issues, the ACLU of Utah and community partners created an inmate handbook to help people in prison navigate the parole system once they are released. Everyone entering prison will receive a copy so they can better prepare for…

Voting for a Change (Spring 2019 Liberty Reporter)

14 May 2019 Published in Articles, Resources, and Position Papers
Strong voter turnout and better ballot access leads to historic election results in San Juan County. One of the ACLU’s unofficial mottos is “Vote like your rights depend on it.”  But what if you can’t exercise that right?  Last November’s midterm election was the first major vote in San Juan County since the ACLU of Utah reached a positive settlement with the county to provide in-person voter assistance and non-English translation services at polling places on the Navajo Nation. The settlement came after we sued the county in 2016 over its decision to switch to an exclusive vote-by-mail system and reduce in-person voting to only one location located far from many Native American communities. Now that the spotlight has shifted from the courtroom to the ballot box, the ACLU of Utah sent two staffers to San Juan County to ensure that the settlement provisions were being followed during the midterm election. After spending several days at multiple locations in the county, the ACLU’s impressions were generally positive. Turnout was high—a thousand more people voted in 2018 than during the last midterm in 2014—while feedback from Native American residents indicated that voting was easier this time. In addition, two Native Americans were…

Open the Bar (Spring 2019 Liberty Reporter)

13 May 2019 Published in Articles, Resources, and Position Papers
Undocumented immigrants qualified to practice law should be admitted to the Utah State Bar. Should beneficiaries of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program be admitted to the Utah State Bar, and does the Utah Supreme Court have the power to admit them?  These were the key questions raised in a petition to the Court by two DACA recipients seeking to become licensed attorneys in Utah. DACA is a program that grants protection from deportation as well as work authorization to qualified undocumented immigrants who came to the United States as children. To answer the questions, the Court invited the ACLU and others to weigh in as amicus curiae, or “friends of the court.” Ultimately, about a dozen organizations and individuals submitted briefs, including law professors, local law firms, the Utah Legislature, and the U.S. Department of Justice. In a brief the ACLU of Utah and the ACLU Immigrants’ Rights Project submitted to the Court in late March, we replied to both questions with an emphatic “yes.” We believe that the state’s judicial branch has the power to make this decision and that undocumented immigrants who meet the rigorous criteria for admission can and should be admitted to the Utah…

See You in Court, Again (Spring 2019 Liberty Reporter)

13 May 2019 Published in Articles, Resources, and Position Papers
The ACLU and Planned Parenthood join forces to protect reproductive rights in Utah. Twenty-eight years after we filed a lawsuit to stop an unconstitutional abortion ban, we did it again. On Wednesday, April 10, the ACLU of Utah Foundation joined with the Planned Parenthood Association of Utah (PPAU) to announce a lawsuit against H.B. 136, the 18-week abortion ban passed by the Utah Legislature and signed by Governor Herbert earlier this year. Backed by dozens of supporters holding bright pink signs reading “Trust Women,” speakers from both organizations pledged to maintain the right for Utah women to access safe and legal abortion.  “We are here today because our legislature has decided once again to attempt to curb important reproductive rights,” Leah Farrell, Senior Staff Attorney for the ACLU of Utah, told the activists and reporters assembled for the event. “And once again we are standing up to hold the line and to say, ‘We will see you in court.’”  A week later, on April 18, lawyers from Planned Parenthood and the ACLU of Utah secured a preliminary injunction against State defendants to prevent enforcement of the 18-week abortion ban. This means there will be no disruption in care for Utah women…

Perspectives (Spring 2019 Liberty Reporter)

13 May 2019 Published in Articles, Resources, and Position Papers
At a time when words like “invasion” and “crisis” dominate the immigration discussion, why does the ACLU use the Statue of Liberty to represent its mission and values? “The Statue of Liberty is a powerful icon across the world. For immigrants arriving to New York City in the early 1900s, to people crossing our borders today, Lady Liberty’s torch symbolizes freedom and opportunity. There is an American tendency to fondly remember earlier immigrants, while fearing current immigrants who are pursuing the same dreams. The ACLU protects the liberties and freedoms enshrined in our Constitution and laws for everyone no matter the headlines or attitudes of the moment. The Statue of Liberty endures, lighting the way for the huddled masses, as we push to achieve liberty and justice for all.” Brittney Nystrom, Executive Director       “Despite the importance of the U.S. Constitution, our nation’s founding document remains almost unapproachable, a faded piece of parchment hidden behind glass. So when the ACLU sought a symbol to represent freedom and equality, the Statue of Liberty stood tall as the embodiment of our nation’s best ideals. Calmly facing outward to welcome generations of immigrants and refugees to our shores, Lady Liberty and…

Calculating the Real Cost of Operation Rio Grande

08 November 2018 Published in Articles, Resources, and Position Papers
Thousands arrested, hundreds in treatment, and an unclear path to success—the ACLU of Utah and Smart Justice Utah take a closer look at the numbers and reality behind Operation Rio Grande.

2018 Utah Voter Empowerment Guide

06 November 2018 Published in Articles, Resources, and Position Papers
The ACLU doesn't endorse or oppose any candidate or party, but we believe voting is the cornerstone of our democracy and a fundamental right upon which all our civil liberties rest. This information is designed to help you protect your own right to vote. 

2018 Annual Membership Meeting Resources

22 October 2018 Published in Articles, Resources, and Position Papers
Were you unable to come to our membership meeting on October 11? We get it, things happen or you might live too far from Salt Lake City? For everyone who was unable to attend the membership meeting, here’s all the information we shared. We hope to see many of you there next year!

Follow These Tips To Make Your Vote Count

18 October 2018 Published in Articles, Resources, and Position Papers
Bring correct (and current) identification to your polling place Utah law requires valid photo identification (driver’s license from Utah or any state, U.S. passport, tribal ID card) to vote. You can also show two different forms of identification that record your name and address, like a student ID card, current utility bill, bank statement, paycheck, certified birth certificate, valid Utah hunting or fishing license, Medicaid, Medicare or EBT card, or Utah vehicle registration. Bills and paystubs must be dated within 90 days of the current election. Re-register if you’ve recently moved or changed your name If you’ve moved into a new voting precinct, your name won’t appear in your new area until you update your address. Ensure that your registration is current and accurate by going to the Utah Voter Registration website (https://secure.utah.gov/voterreg). Plug in your street address, Utah driver’s license number, and date-of-birth to verify your registration. Or call your county clerk’s office. Ask for a provisional ballot Whether you forgot your photo ID, didn’t update your new address, or showed up at the wrong polling place, you always have the right to cast a provisional ballot. These are real ballots that will be reviewed after Election Day and…

Operation Rio Grande

16 October 2018 Published in Articles, Resources, and Position Papers
(October 17, 2018) In August 2017—three days after the launch of Operation Rio Grande (ORG) to ‘clean up’ the area near 500 West—the ACLU of Utah offered our view: “Operation Rio Grande appears to be, at this point in time, ‘business as usual.’” Noting the heavy focus on law enforcement, we described it as another ineffective attempt to address complex social issues like substance abuse and mental illness “through our broken criminal justice system.” Media reports that week noted that state officials secured 300 jail beds prior to the operation, but only 37 beds for drug treatment. Seeing how ORG was designed as a hammer, we predicted 14 months ago that everyone it touched would become a nail.

About the ACLU of Utah

10 October 2018 Published in Articles, Resources, and Position Papers
The ACLU of Utah, chartered in 1958, operates through public education, legal advocacy, litigation, and lobbying at both the state and local levels to ensure the constitutional rights and freedoms of everyone living in or visiting Utah. Our work is based on those principals outlined in the Bill of Rights and our priorities include: Participatory Democracy; Racial Justice; Criminal Justice Reform; Immigration Reform; LGBTQ Equality; Gender Equality; Privacy; and Religious Liberty & Freedom of Belief. In addition, we continue our commitment to protect the First Amendment. For more about the ACLU of Utah and our priorities please visit www.acluutah.org Staff Brittney Nystrom, Executive Director Marina Baginsky Lowe, Legislative & Policy Counsel John Mejia, Legal Director Leah Farrell, Senior Staff Attorney Cassie Taylor, Development Director Jessica Andrews, Finance & Business Manager Rachel Appel, Community Outreach Fellow Reinard Knutsen, Office Manager Jason Groth, Smart Justice Coordinator Margie Nash, Paralegal Sydni Makemo, Southern Utah Community Outreach Coordinator Jason Stevenson, Communications Manager Niki Venugopal, Development & Finance Assistant Board of Directors Danielle Hawkes, PresidentHeidi Chamorro, Vice PresidentBill Orchow, TreasurerSuresh Venkatasubramanian, SecretaryRichard Van Wagoner, Legal Panel LiaisonMary Hall, Affiliate Equity OfficerRoni Jo Draper, National ACLU Board Rep.Brian King, Governance Committee ChairChelsie Acosta, Gina Cornia, Forrest…

What's On The Hill: 2019 Legislative Preview

10 October 2018 Published in Articles, Resources, and Position Papers
Our team will push forward on equality and criminal justice, while protecting rights we’ve already secured The 2019 Utah Legislative Session is just a few months away. Led by Marina Lowe, the ACLU of Utah’s Legislative & Policy Counsel, our team will be supporting an array of sound policy proposals next year.  As in previous years, we will rely on our well-informed and committed network of ACLU community activists to amplify our message. Stay tuned for more information about our lobbyist training workshops and online trainings in the new year.  Below is what we expect on our policy docket when the Utah Legislature convenes in late January 2019.   #1 Gender Equality We anticipate a variety of measures to ensure that Utah employees are treated fairly in the workplace. Did you know that Utah businesses with fewer than 15 workers don’t have to comply with antidiscrimination labor laws? We will seek to apply nondiscrimination protections to Utah employers with as few as one employee. This change would provide consistent and fair protections to employees from discrimination on the basis of gender, race, sexual orientation, or religion.  The ACLU will also support efforts to expand access to the Family Medical Leave Act,…

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