ACLU of Montana

Lawmakers To Consider Limits On Where Sex Offenders Can Live

Apr 13, 2015
Montana Capitol
William Marcus

Tuesday at the Montana Legislature, lawmakers hear a bill that would restrict where high-risk sex offenders can live and work.

Montana lawmakers are moving closer to giving cities the power to deal with the problem of public intoxication.

Current state law treats alcoholism as a disease to be treated rather than a crime to be punished, but Billings city officials say that hampers their efforts to deal with public drunkenness, a problem that costs the city over eight million dollars a year.

A pair of bills intended to increase privacy in the digital age are making their way through the Montana legislature. They were each heard today in the Senate Judiciary Committee, which will vote on them later.

ACLU

A new report says too many of Montana's county jails are unsafe for inmates.

The president of the Montana Sheriffs and Peace Officers Association says it makes some valid points and adds there’s a reason for those conditions.

Chris Hoffman is also sheriff of Ravalli County and says operating jails isn’t easy.

"It is difficult work. Our mandate is to keep those facilities clean and safe for both the inmates and detention officers. It's a challenge every day."

Montana Legislature

In the Montana legislature Tuesday morning, two bills were heard, offering two very different answers to the same question: Does a terminally ill person have a right to die on their own terms, instead of waiting for their illness to run its course, often with much pain, and little dignity?

ACLU

The American Civil Liberties Union of Montana says the state's county jail system is unsafe and badly in need of reform.

The organization issued a report today detailing an overview of what it says are the poor conditions of Montana's local jails.

ACLU Executive Director, Scott Crichton, says too many of Montana's detention centers are old and physically deteriorating.

Legislators Debate Changes To Sexual Abuse Prosecutions

Jan 28, 2015
Sen. Jennifer Fielder (R) SD7
Montana Legislature
Courtesy ACLU of Montana

For certain Montana residents today will be one of those days when they remember where they were when they heard the news. Sue Hawthorne was out shopping with her sister when, as she puts it, her phone started ‘exploding’ with calls and texts from friends. Federal Judge Brian Morris had ruled in a lawsuit in which Hawthorne was a plaintiff. Her marriage to Adel Johnson of Helena, performed in Washington state several months ago, was now legally recognized in Montana:

The ACLU of Montana says a federal judge in Great Falls should rule in favor of gay marriage, without taking their lawsuit to trial.

The group filed suit to overturn Montana’s gay marriage ban in April, on behalf of four same sex couples,
some were married in other states, others are trying to get married in Montana.

Today they asked U.S. District Court Judge Brian Morris to rule in their favor without a trial, since the federal appeals court with jurisdiction over Montana struck down similar bans in Idaho and Nevada on October seventh.

The state ballot measure to end voter registration on election day will be especially bad for Native Americans.

That is according to the lawyer who has argued and won some of Montana’s most significant Native American voting rights lawsuits.

"Any restriction on the ability of people to register to vote ought to be invalidated," says Laughlin McDonald, director emeritus of the American Civil Liberties Union’s Voting Rights Project.

A civil rights organization filed a lawsuit Monday against the state over the treatment of mentally ill inmates at the Montana State Prison and at the Montana State Hospital.

Disability Rights Montana sued seven top officials with both the state Departments of Corrections and Health and Human Services, saying mentally ill inmates are “subjected to a cruel system that exacerbates, rather than treats and ameliorates their mental illness.”

  The American Civil Liberties Union of Montana has written a letter to the state alleging widespread mistreatment of mental illness in both the Montana State Prison and state hospital.