The ACLU of RI is deeply saddened by the death Alvin J. Bronstein, a lifelong civil rights advocate and founder of the ACLU’s National Prison Project. Mr. Bronstein helped to set minimum constitutional standards for prisons across the country through his tireless legal work with the ACLU. He then went on to fight to reform prison conditions around the world.
He made a difference here in Rhode Island by leading a successful ACLU lawsuit against the ACI over its inhumane and unconstitutional prison conditions. With this class action suit, the ACLU challenged the prison’s overcrowded and unsanitary conditions, its culture of fear and violence, and its inadequate healthcare and rehabilitative programs and the court ruled in 1977 that the prison’s conditions did constitute “cruel and unusual punishment.”
It was this ruling and Mr. Bronstein’s years of hard work on the case that brought real reforms at the ACI.
As ACLU executive director Anthony D. Romero said: “Al founded the ACLU’s National Prison Project in 1972 at a time when prisoners had virtually no rights. Over the next quarter-century, his tireless efforts on behalf of prisoners led to major reforms in prison systems throughout the country. … Al’s life and work were an inspiration to generations of public interest lawyers. He truly made a difference.”