Three Degrees Files Amicus Brief and ACLU Launches Campaign to End Mass Incarceration

UW Law Grads at the Three Degrees Project File Amicus Brief to Support Young  People Suing Feds for Failing to Act on Climate Change

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Washington, D.C. – Today, Three Degrees Warmer, a climate justice project based in Washington State, helped six faith-based groups file an amicus curiae (“friend of the court”) brief in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit to support young people suing the federal government for not acting to reverse climate change. Late last month, attorneys for five youth appellants and two non-profits filed their opening brief in the D.C. Circuit court arguing that they have a constitutional right to the benefits of a protected atmosphere and a safe climate system.

As relief, the youth appellants seek a comprehensive federal Climate Recovery Plan, which would reduce U.S. emissions based on the prescription that Dr. James Hansen and other leading international climate scientists say will restore our atmosphere to 350 parts per million (ppm) by the end of the century.

The youths’ lawsuit was filed with the help of Our Children’s Trust, an Oregon-based non-profit orchestrating a game-changing, youth-driven legal campaign in the United States and across the world. The case relies upon the long-established principle of the public trust doctrine, which requires all branches of government to protect and maintain certain commonly shared resources fundamental for human health and survival.  Continue reading here.

Fair Justice Smart Justice: ACLU’s Campaign to End Mass Incarceration

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Today, the ACLU published an in-depth study of people imprisoned in the U.S. with no chance of parole for nonviolent offenses – including relatively minor drug and property crimes such as taking a wallet from a hotel room or serving as the middleman in the sale of $10 worth of marijuana. We found that at least 3,278 prisoners are serving these sentences in federal and state prisons combined.

A Living Death: Life Without Parole for Nonviolent Offenses documents the thousands of lives ruined and families destroyed by sentencing people to die behind bars for nonviolent offenses and analyzes the laws that led to these harsh sentences. The 110 prisoners profiled in A Living Death are extreme examples of the millions of lives ruined by the persistent ratcheting up of our sentencing laws over the last forty years. As the report makes clear, we must change our sentencing practices to make our justice system smart, fair, and humane.

In addition to interviews, correspondence, and a survey of hundreds of prisoners serving life without parole for nonviolent offenses, the ACLU based “A Living Death” on court records and data from the United States Sentencing Commission, Federal Bureau of Prisons, and state Departments of Corrections obtained through Freedom of Information Act and open records requests. Read the full report here.