The ACLU of Florida seeks an end to policies within the criminal justice system that cause widespread violation of constitutional and human rights and also lead to unprecedented levels of incarceration. The state of Florida currently incarcerates over 100,000 people, more than the population of the city of Clearwater.
Between the failed death penalty system, overly-harsh mandatory minimum sentencing, lengthy prison terms for drug possession, over-incarceration of non-violent offenders and zero-tolerance school policies, our criminal justice system is in need of reform. The ACLU of Florida is working with lawmakers and policy leaders and community organizers across the state to rethink and reform Florida’s wasteful, ineffective criminal justice system.
The First Amendment exists precisely to protect all forms of expression, from political dissent to even the most offensive and controversial speech, from government suppression. The best way to counter obnoxious speech is with more speech, not censorship.
From defending the speech rights of protesters during events like the 2003 FTAA ministerial meetings in Miami and the 2012 Republican National Convention in Tampa, to ensuring that groups have the right to express themselves no matter what the content of their speech, the ACLU of Florida has been instrumental in challenging government efforts to silence protest groups and stifle freedom of expression.
The ACLU of Florida works to create a Florida free of discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity. This means a Florida where lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people can live openly, where our identities, relationships and families are respected, and where there is fair treatment on the job, in schools, housing, public places, health care, and government programs.
The ACLU’s LGBT rights strategy is based on the belief that fighting for the society we want means not just persuading judges and government officials, but ultimately changing the way society thinks about LGBT people. To end discrimination, the ACLU seeks both to change the law and to convince Americans that sexual orientation and gender identity discrimination is wrong.
For decades, the ACLU has been instrumental in fighting some of the most egregious discriminatory practices at the polls. But since those victories have been won, new threats to voting rights in Florida have emerged: photo ID requirements, restrictions on voter registration, limiting the number of early voting days, and systematic purges of registered voters, and unfounded allegations of fraud. These voter suppression tactics disproportionately impact racial and language minorities, the elderly, and student voters.
Womens Rights & Reproductive Freedom
The ACLU of Florida is working to secure gender equality and ensure that all women and girls are able to lead lives of dignity, free from violence and discrimination, including discrimination based on gender stereotypes. This means a society where all women and girls have equal access to quality education, employment, housing, and health, irrespective of race, or involvement with the criminal justice system.
We also believe that the ability to decide whether or not to carry a pregnancy to term is essential to women’s equality, autonomy and dignity. However, the right of women in Florida – and across the nation to make these personal decisions without government interference is becoming increasingly restricted. Politicians continue to insert themselves into these very personal decisions and put one-size-fits-all government limits on a woman’s ability to decide what is right for her. This extremely private issue should only be decided by women, their doctors and their personal values.