Welcome to This Week in Civil Rights and Civil Liberties.

This week, crowds gathered to protest against gun violence, debate over the death penalty for non-homicide crimes is revived, and Facebook’s stocks plummeted in light of recent controversy.


Criminal Legal System


Sessions Tells Prosecutors Death Penalty on the Table in Drug Cases. Under federal law, prosecutors can seek the death penalty for some drug-related crimes, including dealing large quantities of drugs. In 2008, the Supreme Court left open the question of whether some non-homicide offenses “against the state” may be punished by death. (CNN)


Extensive Data Shows Punishing Reach of Racism for Black Boys. A study of income inequality shows that black men raised in the top one percent were just as likely to be incarcerated as white men raised in households earning about $36,000. (New York Times)


The DAs Who Want to Set the Guilty Free. Many states do not leave a mechanism for requesting a new sentence for a current inmate just because a new prosecutor believes that it is in the best interest of justice, forcing some prosecutors to look for a workaround. (Marshall Project)


Philadelphia DA Larry Krasner Promised a Criminal Justice Revolution. A recently released memo from Krasner’s office reveals a number of changes in practice, including an instruction to add up and justify the costs of sentencing an individual, and calling for line prosecutors to divert more. (The Intercept)


Second Amendment


March for Our Lives: Huge crowds gather for rally against gun violence in nation’s capital. The march was organized by students who survived last month’s mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. The student organizers hope to force Congress to pass a comprehensive gun-control bill. (Washington Post)


Scarred by school shootings. A year-long study shows that more than 187,000 students from at least 193 schools have experienced on-campus shootings. Children of color are more likely to experience gun violence at school. (Washington Post)




Houston Speculators Make a Fast Buck From Storm’s Misery. In Houston suburbs damaged by storms, a new economy has risen that involves buying and selling flooded homes. (New York Times)




If Trump Doesn’t Get His Wall, No One Gets DACA. The $1.3 trillion omnibus spending bill President Trump signed on Friday afternoon offers nothing for the nearly 700,000 DACA recipients. (The Nation)


Dozens of African Detainees Allege Serial Abuse and Hate Crimes at Notorious Private Immigration Jail. Over the course of a week, immigrant men from Somalia, Kenya, and Sudan were pepper-sprayed, beaten, threatened, taunted with racial slurs, and subjected to sexual abuse. (The Intercept)




Protesters block NBA arena over fatal Sacramento police shooting. Protestors blocked an entrance to an arena, chanting “Black Lives Matter” and the name Stephon Clark, whom police shot and killed in his grandmother’s backyard. (CNN)


Privacy Rights


Facebook’s Data Mishap and the Case for Regulation. Facebook’s stock is plummeting, it is under investigation, an executive is stepping down, and #DeleteFacebook is trending. These events might lead Facebook and related platforms to learn that self-regulation may be a weakness. (Brennan Center)


Voting Rights


New Election Security Funds are Breakthrough for Democracy. Congress has set aside $380 million to help update election infrastructure. (Brennan Center)


The Military


Trump Approves New Limits on Transgender Troops in the Military. According to an ACLU memo, the new policy “effectively coerces transgender people who wish to serve into choosing between their humanity and their country, and makes it clear that transgender service members are not welcome.” (New York Times)


State Legislation


Democracy Just Got Stronger in Washington State. Governor Jay Inslee signed the Washington Voting Rights Act into law. The law allows voters who believe that the local electoral system they participate in is in violation of the federal Voting Rights Act to file notice with the relevant local government. This notice provides an alternative to litigation, which is often resource-draining and time-consuming. (ACLU)