American Civil Liberties Union (National Prison Project)

The ACLU is a non-profit, multi-issue public interest organization devoted to protecting the basic civil liberties of all people in the United States. The public interest law firm component of the ACLU works in courts, legislatures, and communities around the country to defend the freedoms guaranteed by the United States Constitution and civil rights laws.

Since 1972, the National Prison Project (NPP) of the ACLU Foundation has helped improve the living conditions of persons in United States prisons, jails, juvenile facilities, and immigration detention centers. It is the only organization in the country litigating prison conditions on a national basis. It seeks to reduce prison overcrowding, reduce reliance on incarceration as a criminal justice sanction, create constitutional and human prison conditions, and strengthen prisoner rights through litigation, public education and advocacy.

THE CASE: A grant was made related to Rutherford v. Baca, a case challenging severe overcrowding and other unconstitutional conditions at the Los Angeles County jail. One of the main issues in the case is the treatment of prisoners with mental illness. The case has strong potential to act as a catalyst for major policy changes in Los Angeles County and, ultimately, the nation.

Contact: David C. Fathi, Director, National Prison Project, American Civil Liberties Union, 915 15th Street, N.W., 7th Floor, Washington, D.C. 20005.