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Modern day debtors’ prison. That’s what the American Civil Liberties Union says Benton County has created in eastern Washington. The ACLU is suing the county charging that it illegally sends people to jail or puts them on work crews when they fail to pay court imposed fines.

ACLU Sues Idaho Over Public Defense System

Jun 17, 2015

The American Civil Liberties Union says Idaho’s public defense system is defective and unconstitutional.  The ACLU is now suing the state over the issue.

The civil rights group contends that Idaho officials have known for at least five years that high caseloads, low budgets and a system that changes from county to county means that low-income defendants aren't being fairly represented in court.

The ACLU says the system consistently denies defendants’ rights guaranteed in the US Constitution’s 6th amendment. 

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The ACLU of Washington is launching an effort to ensure that hospitals are following the state’s abortion rights laws.

Thursday the ACLU filed a lawsuit seeking to have Skagit Regional Health comply with Washington’s Reproductive Privacy Act, or RPA.

The ACLU’s Doug Hoening says the public hospital has a policy of not providing abortion services, in violation of state law.

Hoening says The ACLU also has sent letters to three other public hospital districts in Mason County, Jefferson County, and Whidbey Island that have the same policy:

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A federal judge ruled against the City of Yakima in a voting rights challenge Tuesday, setting the stage for a new era in Central Washington politics. The ruling calls for an overhaul of Yakima’s City Council elections to better represent the will of Latino voters.

Judge Thomas Rice’s order followed his ruling last August that Yakima’s at-large City Council races suffocated the Latino vote. The city’s Latino population is over 40 percent and growing, yet no Latino has ever been elected to City Council.

A federal judge has ruled that the way city council members are elected in Yakima disenfranchises Latino voters. That surprise ruling Friday comes exactly two years after the ACLU filed a federal Voting Rights Act lawsuit against the city. Correspondent Austin Jenkins has this update.

A court in Washington State has ruled that local law enforcement officers cannot prolong traffic stops and other detentions to ask people about their immigration status. 

The lawyer for a Richland, Wash., florist being sued for refusing to provide flowers for a same-sex wedding says he hopes to move the lawsuit to federal court as a First Amendment case.

Photo by Austin Jenkins / Northwest News Network

Nearly nine out of 10 city councils across the Northwest have no Latino members. That estimate comes from a database we assembled of Hispanic officeholders in Washington, Oregon and Idaho. One of the cities with no Latino representations is located in one of the most heavily Hispanic parts of our region. We’re talking about the city of Yakima. The ACLU is suing over the issue. Correspondent Austin Jenkins has our latest story on why the region's largest minority group has so little clout in the political arena.

Austin Jenkins / Northwest News Network

The ACLU of Washington says at-large city council elections in the city of Yakima dilute the Latino vote and violate the federal Voting Rights Act. The ACLU filed a lawsuit Wednesday against the city.