Articles Posted in Civil Rights

matthew-henry-35963-unsplash-copy-300x200A fair trial is one in which the jury or judge imparts judgement without any partiality towards anyone. The various rights linked with a fair trial are explained in Article 10 of the Declaration of Human Rights, in the Sixth Amendment to the United States Constitution.

Any government’s key role is to maintain law and order in society. It is their duty to give fair punishments to a criminal while delivering justice. All of this comes with a great responsibility since convicting someone of an unlawful act is a serious step that will impact the rest of that person’s life.

Thus, the right to a fair trial ensures that people can feel protected and safe. They can know that the law is certain and fair for everyone in the nation. This also means that the government cannot abuse its power and thus can separate the guilty and the innocent.

javier-villaraco-235574-copy-300x225Some people are arguing against what they perceive to be unnecessary censorship by the authorities when writing prison rules. The department of corrections in Chicago has very strict rules for what can be brought into its prisons. The reasons for this range from security to discipline. In any case, some prison authorities believe that being sent to prison should always be a form of punishment rather than allowing the convict to have any form of pleasure, however small it may be.

There are those who come from a human rights perspective who argue that prisoners do not lose their fundamental rights just because they are incarcerated. They argue that unless there is clear evidence of an illegal activity or a security risk, the prisoners should be able to access media materials. Of course that is a complicated system when dealing with offenders such as those facing weapons charges and sex offenders who may use the access to the media in order to continue committing crimes.

Lawsuits Against the Prison Service in Chicago

aaron-burden-149693-copy-300x225A cell phone is a mechanical device used for personal and business transactions. Because it is widely available, many people use cell phones to communicate. It is one’s property, kept and protected for privacy.

What happens if you are called in for questioning or accused of a crime? Are the police allowed to search your cell phone? If they are, then do they need a warrant to search your personal property?

What is a Warrant?

elliott-stallion-105205-copy-300x200Many people in Chicago, Illinois want to know if they can vote in the state if they are already imprisoned or held for a felony conviction. This query is generally made during election time. A lot of people are not cognizant of the laws when it comes to voting from jail.

In the United States, the voting rules for incarcerated individuals differ from one state to the other, which adds to the confusion. This is why it is imperative that people educate themselves about the rules. There are specific rules regarding voting after a felony conviction in Illinois.

What is the Law in Illinois?

tim-graf-202490-copy-300x200The 7th circuit appeal court has just considered the case of Joseph Doornbos. This case highlights some of the important things for residents of Chicago to consider when they are stopped and searched. It specifically looks at pat-downs and whether the police have to have reasonable grounds for suspicion before they act.

In this case, the search was done by law enforcement agents that were not in uniform (plain clothes agents). They confronted the suspect and tackled him to the ground as he was leaving a train station. Later on, they charged him with resisting an arrest, but he was acquitted on that charge.

The Issues of the Case

javier-villaraco-235574-copy-300x225There has been a preliminary hearing to consider whether the civil rights of a prisoner who has been in solitary confinement for eight years were violated. This was not a final ruling but rather permission to proceed with the case. That means that there was either probable cause or serious constitutional issues that had to be dealt with by the court on the case.

The full court reversed a summary judgement that had earlier been passed against a federal inmate. The prisoner had brought a petition about his constitutional due process and rights. Aaron Isby had been convicted of robbery as well as serious bodily harm in 1989. He was imprisoned at the Pendleton Correctional Facility.

When an inmate, Isby had had an altercation with a counselor. He was gassed and apprehended by a cell-extraction team. A dog died during the incident. The inmate actually stabbed two officers. This led to a charge and conviction of attempted murder as well as battery. Another 40 years were added to his sentence.

nicolas-barbier-garreau-256433-copy-300x240In the legal world, few matters are as controversial as those that allow confiscation and forfeiture by the police. It is something that has dramatically polarized the two sides. It is rare that you will find someone who is neither truly “for” nor truly “against” these laws. Those who are in favor of the police departments being legally allowed to confiscate goods and money hold that law enforcement is taking away the proceeds of criminal enterprises. Staunch advocates, however, state that the police are nothing but thieves with badges who are taking the property of citizens without trials or due process. This issue is a complex one, to say the least.

Policing for Profit

To understand the law in Chicago, one must first understand what civil forfeiture and confiscation means and how it would apply to the person being affected by it. The standard rule of law used in Chicago dictates that police may confiscate property, including money, that meets certain criteria. These criteria are simple and, to some, are far too broad: Law enforcement officers have to believe that the property was used in a crime, is intended to be used in a crime, or has been obtained in connection with a crime. As you can see, this is a straightforward, if broad, list.

daan-stevens-282446-copy-300x191It is a controversial move but one that is considered to be a reflection of the reality that many state governments are not able to sustain the increasing healthcare costs of their citizenry. Chicago is no exception, and its new managed care provisions reflect a need for reform. Recently, the state has amended the law in such a way as to move Medicaid users towards the more affordable managed care options. Like any change, there are political and legal ramifications to this one. Some have argued that the changes are inhumane and could actually constitute a illegal or unconstitutional act. At the moment, the supreme court has not yet fully pronounced itself on the matter.

Meanwhile, the provisions of the law continue to impact the citizens of Chicago. It is particularly onerous for those who are disabled in some way or another. There are benefits to the managed care options, including an investment in infrastructure such as ramps. However, some of the Medicaid users feel that there will also be an additional administrative burden and the possibility of being rejected for full benefits. The changes are based on a public-private partnership model that has been used in other areas of public spending. In this case, not-for-profit organizations such as the Community Care Alliance are given access to some funds and income generating opportunities so that they can provide services that better reflect the needs of the service users.

Practical and Administrative Changes

aidan-bartos-313782-copy-300x200Chicago has been one of the cities at the forefront of confronting the pressing issue of equal pay and conditions. Advocates have been regularly demonstrating in front of the legislative assembly demanding reform. A flurry of laws and legislative amendments have been passed in order to correct historical and current injustices in the arena of work. The only problem is that many ordinary members of the public do not really know the law or even how it is meant to apply to them. The justifications for the amendments range from moral ones to practical ones that speak of the benefits of having a rational pay structure.

The evidence is undisputed; many women in Chicago were paid a fraction of the wages paid to men for the same job. This was not a situation that was unique to Chicago alone. Unequal pay has been in existence from the moment that women joined the formal workforce. One of the provisions of the act is to bar employers from asking about wage and salary history because this is often used to mask the application of unequal pay. Women who have been on the receiving end of a raw deal can end up being trapped in that structure because the current and prospective employer wants to base the pay offer on past wages.

Technical Provisions Within the Law

peter-hershey-282615-copy-300x200The law on sexual minorities is in its infancy stage in Chicago. There are a host of issues that are of concern to LGBT people in Chicago, the law being one of them. Specifically, advocacy groups have sought for protection at a time when the federal government has tried to declassify LGBT people as a protected group. That status of being a protected group is the starting point for many of the civil rights protections that are extended to minorities who have been traditionally marginalized in American society. Chicago is by no means an anti-LGBT city. It certainly has a much better record than some of its counterparts. Nevertheless, there is a lot of work that needs to be done in order to entrench these protections.

The law should be able to protect all citizens of Chicago from hate crimes. This is often a controversial issue because one person’s rights are another’s infringements. The freedom of expression in particular has been an area of contention. There is a continuum of liberty from being able to kiss your partner freely in a public place without harassment to not getting beaten to pulp on a Saturday night because someone thinks that being gay is a crime against “the laws of nature.”

The Right to Self-Identity and Human Dignity