The rights guaranteed to criminal suspects, defendants, offenders and prisoners are not mere technicalities. They are fundamental political rights that protect all Americans from governmental abuse of power. These rights include the guarantee against unreasonable search and seizure, the right to reasonable bail, the right to due process of law and the right to be free from cruel and unusual treatment—and they are indispensable to a free society. Yet crime control policies all too often assume that harsher law enforcement policies and longer prison sentences can solve the problem. The ACLU works to puncture this “tough on crime” rhetoric, safeguard fundamental liberties, and advocate for sensible, evidence-based reforms of criminal justice policies.

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