Steve Brown

The U.S. Court of Appeals in Boston Thursday will hear a case out of Rhode Island. It involves the 2009 detainment of a North Providence woman.  The Rhode Island chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union says the woman was a naturalized citizen at the time.

Ada Morales sued federal immigration officials and Rhode Island’s head of prisons, claiming she was detained illegally when she was taken into custody and held for a day. Rhode Island ACLU Director Steve Brown said the detainment violated her rights to equal protection and freedom from unreasonable searches and seizures.

The US Supreme Court made two high-profile decisions this week, and civil liberties again made for a hotly debate subject at the General Assembly this year. The head of the Rhode Island chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union, Steve Brown, stopped by our studios to discuss those and other issues.

Ian Donnis / RIPR

Steve Brown, executive director of the Rhode Island chapter of the ACLU, joins Political Roundtable this week to discuss a new law instituting harsher sentences for gang-related crime; the 2014 session of the General Assembly; the US Supreme Court's Hobby Lobby decision; and why the ACLU opposes the convening of a constitutional convention.

Kristin Gourlay / RIPR

The U.S. Supreme Court’s decision to overturn a Massachusetts law meant to keep protesters 35 feet away from abortion clinics is drawing local reaction.

Rhode Island ACLU head Steve Brown says he thinks the court struck the right balance in this ruling, a balance between the right to free speech and the right to have an abortion. He says the court appropriately noted that clinics have other ways of dealing with protestors who cross a line.

A public discussion over making test scores part of the high school graduation requirement will take place at Monday night’s Board of Education meeting.

It took a court order, but the Board of Education will hold a public vote on a petition over whether high school diplomas should be linked to test scores.  

Some 4,000 students failed to pass the NECAP last fall, many of them from urban schools. ACLU director Steve Brown said what’s now known about who failed the test should be an influence.

One of the most contentious issues in education remains high-stakes testing. In Rhode Island most of the strum and drang revolves around the New England Common Assessment Program Test.

This year, for the first time, R.I. high school seniors will have to pass the NECAP test to get a diploma. But the Rhode Island Department of Education, with little fanfare, on January 3rd issued a waiver policy that has been slowly circulating among education wonks and professionals around the state.

Flo Jonic / RIPR

The Rhode Island chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union is keeping up the heat in its opposition to the NECAP test as a requirement for high school graduation. The ACLU has filed a third legal action against what it calls a lack of process in retaining the controversial test.

For the third time in less than two months, the ACLU of Rhode Island has taken legal action against the state Board of Education for violating open government laws in dealing with the NECAP test.

A judge has ordered the Rhode Island Board of Education to open up a portion of what was supposed to be a retreat closed to the public.

The board had planned to hear about requiring NECAP test scores for graduation at a closed retreat later this month.

The Rhode Island chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union sued saying the closed retreat violated the Open Meetings Act.

After hearing arguments for almost two hours, Judge Daniel Procaccini issued a preliminary injunction, allowing the public to hear the portion of the retreat discussing NECAP testing.

file / RIPR

The Rhode Island chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union has filed a lawsuit to keep the state’s Board of Education from holding a retreat that’s closed to the public.

The upcoming retreat will feature presentations on high stakes testing. It will be closed to both the media and the public. Rhode Island ACLU chapter executive director Steve Brown said that undermines the state’s open meetings laws.

file / RIPR

A handful of open government groups are urging Gov. Lincoln Chafee to block legislation that would shroud school safety plans in secrecy. 

Providence Phoenix Newspaper
Elisabeth Harrison / RIPR

Last week news broke that the weekly alternative paper, the Boston Phoenix, was stopping the presses after 47 years of publication. The news caught most media watchers off guard and has left some in Rhode Island wondering about the future of the Providence Phoenix. Here with insight into what happened in Boston and what’s ahead for Providence is the associate publisher of the Providence Phoenix Steve Brown.

PROVIDENCE, RI – The Rhode Island chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union has settled a lawsuit with the Cranston School Department. The settlement allows a mother with a criminal record to volunteer at her daughter’s elementary school.

When Jessica Doyle was in her early 20’s, she was a heroin addict who was convicted twice for felony drug charges. This was before her daughter was born in 2003. And since then she’s received treatment and is an advocate for drug prevention.