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Protecting Civil Liberties in Rhode Island for Over 50 Years

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COVID-19 & Civil Liberties in RI

The ACLU of RI continues to monitor the government's response to COVID-19 and its impact on civil liberties. Our related actions (detailed below and to the right) are motivated by the following principles:

  • Government responses should be based on science & public health.
  • Any response plan must protect the health, safety, and civil liberties of all.
  • We need to pay particular attention to the most vulnerable people in our society, including people who are detained and incarcerated.
  • Government transparency and the right to vote are fundamental to our democracy – especially in times of crisis.

Page last updated October 5, 2020.


Click a topic to scroll down to that section.


INCARCERATED & DETAINED PEOPLE

  • More than half of the total ICE detainees at Wyatt have been conditionally released due to a class action lawsuit we filed.
  • In April, we filed a successful emergency lawsuit securing the release of three immigrants being detained at the Wyatt Detention Center who were at high risk for serious illness or death in the event of COVID-19 infection.
  • We wrote to officials at both the Dept. of Corrections (DOC) and the Wyatt Detention Center, calling on them to develop evidence-based, proactive plans for the prevention and management of COVID-19.  That letter is here.
  • We wrote to the DOC requesting that officials start making public bi-weekly reports documenting COVID-19 cases, testing and other data.  Wyatt had already been court ordered to do this. Click here for the letter we sent.

VOTING RIGHTS

RIGHTS of PEOPLE with DISABILITIES

DUE PROCESS & UI BENEFITS

  • On June 3, the DLT agreed to take interim action to address frozen unemployment insurance (UI) benefits in response to our class-action lawsuit challenging the agency's actions in summarily suspending the benefits for hundreds of people - without any notice or explanation.

4TH AMENDMENT RIGHTS

  • An Executive Order from Governor Raimondo gave police the power to stop cars with ANY out-of-state license plates coming into Rhode Island.  Police exercise of this power raised extraordinarily serious constitutional concerns, and the ACLU called on the Governor to amend or repeal the EO in question. Our blog post detailing on our position was also published as an op-ed in the Providence Journal. Related police stops have since ceased.

STUDENTS' RIGHTS

PRIVACY

  • We issued a statement regarding the Governor's announcement of a voluntary contact tracing app. 
  • In response to news reports that the Department of Health is sharing with law enforcement the addresses of people who have COVID-19, we sent a letter expressing grave concern and urging the DOH to cease this information-sharing.

OPEN GOVERNMENT

QUARANTINE

  • The ACLU continues to monitor the state's actions related to quarantining and related to RI's technological approach to contact tracing. In April, we wrote the state on behalf of one couple with homes in both RI and NY who travel back and forth every few weeks for chemotherapy treatments, and who face quarantine every time they return to Rhode Island. The letter raises concerns about the lack of due process procedures to challenge a quarantine order as well as the state's failure to have the infrastructure in place to ensure that people quarantined have access to food and other necessities.

COURT CLOSURES

THE GENERAL ASSEMBLY

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