Criminal Justice Issues The ACLU of Rhode Island is Involved With - Court Cases, Legislation, News Releases


Protecting Civil Liberties in Rhode Island for Over 50 Years


Criminal Justice

“Procedural fairness and regularity are of the indispensable essence of liberty… Let it not be overlooked that due process of law is not for the sole benefit of an accused. It is the best insurance for the Government itself against those blunders which leave lasting stains on a system of justice.”

– U.S. Supreme Court Justice Robert Jackson

The Rhode Island ACLU works to make the promise of fair treatment a reality for all people. All too often, the rights of those involved in the criminal justice system are compromised or ignored.  But the Bill of Rights was designed to ensure that basic procedural protections of fairness should apply to all individuals, including suspects, criminal defendants, and prisoners.

Criminal Justice in the News

  • Oct, 23, 2020: National ACLU Report Calling for Decriminalization of Sex Work Cites Rhode Island’s History
  • Aug, 03, 2020: Groups Press for Funding for Mental Health Staff for RI Students
  • Jun, 22, 2020: ACLU Calls for Dropping of Felony Charges Against Alleged Columbus Statue Vandals

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Criminal Justice Court Cases

2020: Johnson v. Pawtucket
Category: Active Case    Civil Rights    Criminal Justice    Discrimination    Racial/Ethnic Discrimination    Police Practices    Students' Rights    Youth Rights    

About this Case:
This is a lawsuit against the City of Pawtucket over a School Resource Officer’s (SRO) unlawful handcuffing and arrest of a 13-year-old African-American middle school honors student.

Current Status:
Lawsuit filed in June 2020.

Cooperating Attorneys:
Shannah Kurland, Lynette Labinger

Supporting Documents
2020: Blanchette v. Narragansett
Category: Active Case    Criminal Justice    Free Speech    Police Practices    Students' Rights    Youth Rights    

About this Case:
This is a lawsuit in federal court seeking monetary damages on behalf of a former Narragansett High School student with special education needs who was thrown to the ground, choked and falsely arrested by a school resource officer (SRO). A video of the incident is available here.

Current Status:
Lawsuit filed in May 2020.

ACLU of RI Cooperating Attorney:
Amato A. DeLuca

Supporting Documents

More Criminal Justice Related Court Cases »