Civil Rights

Data, statistics and information regarding civil and human rights, particularly in the context of drug control policies and the criminal justice system

Voting Behavior

(Voting Behavior) "There is some evidence indicating that voting behavior and criminal behavior are related. In a longitudinal survey of 1,000 young adults, Uggen and Manza (2004) found that only around 5% of the voters had been arrested or incarcerated compared to the non-voters of whom 16% had been arrested and 12% had been incarcerated. And, among former arrestees, approximately 27% of the non-voters had been rearrested compared to 12% of the voters.

Felony Disenfranchisement and the 2000 and 2004 Presidential Election Results in Florida

(Felony Disenfranchisement and the 2000 and 2004 Presidential Election Results in Florida) "In the last two presidential races, voters gave almost equal support to Democratic and Republican candidates; in 2004 less than 2.5 percentage points separated President Bush and Senator Kerry and the margin in 2000 between then-Governor Bush and Vice-President Gore was less than half a percentage point. Even more startling, as shown in Table 1, in 2000, the margin between Vice-President Al Gore and Governor George W. Bush was less than 6000 votes in four states.

Voting Rights and International Law

(Voting Rights and International Law) "The basic principles for electoral democracy are laid out in international law. Article 25 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) declares that 'Every citizen shall have the right and the opportunity, without any of the distinctions mentioned in article 2 and without unreasonable restrictions:. . .(b) To vote and to be elected at genuine periodic elections which shall be by universal and equal suffrage and shall be held by secret ballot, guaranteeing the free expression of the will of the electors. .

Confidential Informants

(Confidential Informants) "Drug law enforcement in the United States has grown highly dependent upon the wholesale use of confidential informants (CIs), who are frequently lawbreakers in their own right. Driven by skewed police performance metrics and draconian sentencing policies, and corrupted through perverse incentives coupled with nonexistent oversight, the informant system as operated is antithetical to basic fairness, the proper administration of the justice system, and truly effective law enforcement.

Erosion of the Fourth Amendment

(Erosion of the Fourth Amendment) "In recent years – in no small part as the result of the failed 'war on drugs' – Fourth Amendment principles have been steadily eroding. The circumstances under which police and other government officials may conduct warrantless searches has been rapidly expanding. The courts have allowed for increased surveillance and searches on the nation’s highways and at our 'borders' (the legal definition of which actually extends hundreds of miles inland from the actual border).

Thermal Imaging

(Thermal Imaging) "In Kyllo [v United States], a federal agent used infrared thermal imaging equipment to compare the heat emanating from a triplex unit to the heat signatures of other nearby residences. Based in part on the equipment reading indicating that the defendant’s home was warmer than the others, the agent obtained a search warrant. Officers searched the home and seized marijuana plants growing inside.

Helicopter Surveillance

(Helicopter Surveillance) "The Supreme Court addressed whether an observation made from a low-flying helicopter constituted a search in Florida v. Riley,58 a plurality concluding that it did not. At issue was the use of a police helicopter, hovering at 400 feet (an altitude prohibited for fixed-wing aircraft), to observe, through an opening in a greenhouse roof, marijuana growing inside.

Reasons to Seek Alternatives to Incarceration

(Reasons to Seek Alternatives to Incarceration) "In responding to the problem of drug use, many countries have introduced severe penalties for drug use and related crime, which have resulted in large numbers of people in prisons, compulsory treatment centres, or labour camps without significant long term impact on drug use, drug dependence or drug-related crime in the community and are in contradiction with human rights. At the same time, the long term incarceration of a large number of people who use drugs is expensive.