Democracy’s defenders: Jay Diaz & Lia Ernst of ACLU VT on fighting for civil liberties

On this Independence Day show, we discuss the battle for civil liberties in Vermont and around the country. Jay Diaz and Lia Ernst have been staff attorneys for the American Civil Liberties Union of Vermont since 2015. They have been arguing — and winning — precedent-setting cases that address racial profiling, government transparency, immigrant rights, prisoner rights and other issues. They discuss what’s at stake and why they fight. (July 3, 2019 broadcast)

Jay Diaz & Lia Ernst, staff attorneys, ACLU of Vermont

 

The Advocates: Vermont’s public interest groups mobilize for change

Will 2019-2020 bring Vermont paid family leave, $15 minimum wage, smart justice reform, stronger protection from toxic chemicals and clean water? These are some of the goals of advocates for social, economic and environmental justice who have descended on the Vermont State House pressing for change on these and other issues in the new legislative biennium. We hold a roundtable discussion with leaders from some of Vermont’s key advocacy groups to hear about their priorities and strategies for the 2019-2020 legislative session. (January 9, 2019 broadcast)

Dan Barlow, Policy Manager, Vermont Businesses for Social Responsibility

Paul Burns, executive director, Vermont Public Interest Research Group 

Lauren Hierl, executive director, Vermont Conservation Voters

Kate Logan, director of programming & policy, Rights & Democracy

James Lyall, executive director, American Civil Liberties Union of Vermont

 

VT Attorney General T.J. Donovan: Yes to reform, no to private prisons

On January 23, 2018, Vermont Attorney General T.J. Donovan issued a statement strongly opposing a plan by Gov. Phil Scott to build a $140 million 925-bed private prison in Vermont. “Vermonters should ask some tough questions about whether there is a better way to address the need for correctional facilities in the state of Vermont,” wrote Donovan. Attorney General Donovan explains why he has taken the unusual step of coming out strongly and early against the governor’s plan. “I hope his leadership on this issue can be replicated nationally,” responded ACLU deputy director Bill Cobb. (January 24, 2018 broadcast)

Vermont Attorney General T.J. Donovan

James Lyall, executive director, ACLU of Vermont

Bill Cobb, deputy director, ACLU Campaign for Smart Justice

Ashley Sawyer, Vermonters for Criminal Justice Reform, formerly incarcerated

Can we end mass incarceration?

According to the ACLU, Vermont currently incarcerates approximately 1,700 people. That’s three times the number of people it incarcerated in the 1980s and 50 percent more people than in the late 1990s.  According to the Sentencing Project, Vermont imprisons Black men at a higher rate than any other state. All this comes at great cost: the FY17 budget for the Department of Corrections was $142 million.

On January 24, 2018, the ACLU of Vermont launched Smart Justice Vermont. This is part of the National ACLU’s Campaign for Smart Justice that was launched in 2014 with a goal of cutting the national prison population of 2.3 million people in half. We discuss how Vermont, and the US, can take concrete steps to end mass incarceration. Cobb also discusses his experience being incarcerated in Pennsylvania. (January 24, 2018 broadcast)

James Lyall, executive director, ACLU of Vermont

Bill Cobb, deputy director, ACLU Campaign for Smart Justice

Katrina Battle, founder, Milton Inclusion & Diversity Initiative

“We will fight back:” Immigrant advocates react to crackdown

The Trump administration’s first immigration crackdown led to more than 680 arrests in just a week in a series of operations around the country. Two leading immigration advocates and attorneys discuss the fallout and how Vermont is fighting to protect the rights of immigrants. (February 15, 2017 broadcast)

Erin Jacobsen – supervising attorney, South Royalton Legal Clinic, professor, Vermont Law School

Jay Diaz, staff attorney, Vermont ACLU

See you in court: Vt ACLU prepares to take on Pres. Trump

In President Trump’s first week in office, the American Civil Liberties Union handed him his first defeat: successfully challenging his refugee and Muslim ban in court and winning a stay in multiple federal courts. Now the Vermont chapter of the ACLU prepares to defend immigrant rights, privacy, LGBTQ rights, press freedom and other civil liberties in Vermont. We discuss the road ahead.

James Lyall, executive director, Vermont ACLU

Is your privacy protected?

Drones. Computer hacking. Cell phone location services. These are just some of the threats to privacy that citizens face on a daily basis. Allen Gilbert, executive director of the Vermont chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union, discusses new legislation aimed at protecting privacy, and why he feels that Act 46, Vermont’s new education law, violates the Vermont constitution and will likely result in a lawsuit from the ACLU.

Allen Gilbert, executive director, Vermont chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union

Racial justice after Ferguson

More than three people per day were killed by police in America in the last month. The majority of the victims were men of color. What hope is there for progress on racial justice in this deadly environment? How can we shut off the school-to-prison pipeline, where school students are being sent to jail instead of the principal’s office? What are the lessons of Selma, Alabama, for the post-Ferguson America?

Dennis Parker, director, ACLU Racial Justice Program

Inequalities: Civil Liberties Under Fire in Vt; Ending Inequality & Poverty

Does Vermont have a racial profiling problem? Is your privacy at risk? Are your civil liberties being violated by drones, license plate readers, and other new electronic surveillance?

Allen Gilbert, executive director of the Vermont chapter of the ACLU, talks about the state of civil liberties in the Green Mountain State

Today, 47 million Americans live in poverty, while middle class incomes are in decline. The top 20 percent now controls 89 percent of all wealth. Can poverty be ended?

Scott Myers-Lipton, author of Ending Extreme Inequality: An Economic Bill of Rights to Eliminate Poverty and professor of sociology at San Jose State University

Alan Gilbert, Vt ACLU, on privacy, drones, & education, 2-26-2014

Allen Gilbert, executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Vermont, discusses his concerns about Tasers, threats to privacy, surveillance, drones, the revolving door in politics, education overhaul, and how his experiences traveling in former Soviet bloc countries after college shaped his views on protecting civil liberties.