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

  • Dec, 18, 2018: ACLU Report Finds Justice Reinvestment Undermined by Expansion of “Statehouse-To-Prison Pipeline”
  • Dec, 13, 2018: Groups Condemn Department of Health Regulatory Action Affecting Thousands with Criminal Records
  • Nov, 03, 2018: ACLU Issues Statement on Arrest of Richard Gardner

View All »

Criminal Justice Court Cases

2017: RIHAP v. Raimondo
Category: Active Case    Civil Rights    Criminal Justice    Discrimination    Rights of the Disabled    Rights of the Poor    Rights of Ex-Offenders    


About This Case:
This is a case filed in U.S. Distric Court against the State of Rhode Island on behalf of a group of homeless registered sex offenders (RSOs) who, because of a state law, will no longer be allowed to stay at the Harrington Hall homeless shelter in Cranston and will instead be forced back into the streets.

Current Status:
Lawsuit settled in December 2018.

ACLU Cooperating Attorneys:
Lynnette Labinger, John E. MacDonald


Supporting Documents
2015: Ferreira v. Wall
Category: Civil Rights    Criminal Justice    Fair Administration of Justice    

This is a federal lawsuit to challenge the constitutionality of a 106-year-old statute that declares inmates serving life sentences at the ACI to be “civilly dead.” The lawsuit, filed in U.S. District Court by ACLU volunteer attorney Sonja Deyoe, is on behalf of two ACI inmates and the women who have been barred from marrying them because of the “civil death” law. Rhode Island apparently remains one of only three states that still has on the books a law like this, whose origins date back to ancient English common law.

Supporting Documents

More Criminal Justice Related Court Cases »