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Deborah Jacobs
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Deborah Jacobs is a passionate defender of freedom, justice and equality whose career includes more than 20 years working for the ACLU, most notably as executive director of the ACLU of New Jersey, where she earned a reputation as powerful voice for First Amendment rights, police accountability, privacy, women's rights, racial justice, government transparency, drug policy reform and other fights for social justice.

Jacobs holds a B.A. in English Literature and an M.A. in Liberal Studies from Skidmore College in Saratoga Springs, NY and is a former Fulbright Scholar.

Entries by Deborah Jacobs

Police Accountability After Ferguson

(5) Comments | Posted August 21, 2014 | 12:54 PM

When I awoke to news of the National Guard coming to Ferguson Monday morning, I felt like I had been transported back to Newark, New Jersey. Not the Newark I left a few months ago to return to St. Louis, but the Newark of the summer of '67,...

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Give Girls Equal Time in Struggle Against Racism's Real Consequences

(7) Comments | Posted July 23, 2013 | 1:53 PM

I appreciate President Obama's comments about race last week in response to the not-guilty verdict in the murder of Trayvon Martin. No surprise, in choosing from the many approaches he could take to address the issue, he opted for the relatively safe role of serving as a translator of the...

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The Conclave, the Cardinals, and the Child Sexual Abuse Crisis

(23) Comments | Posted March 11, 2013 | 11:12 AM

All eyes are on the Vatican as more than 100 cardinals from around the world gather this week to select a new pope. Their choice will reflect a collective sense of priorities for the Catholic Church, as much as it will the qualities of the man selected.

Top church officials,...

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Sex Discrimination Repackaged

(3) Comments | Posted August 21, 2012 | 3:25 PM

The strategic selection of former Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice and South Carolina businesswoman Darla Moore as the first women invited to join the Augusta National Golf Club demonstrates once again that public pressure can force change, but it also delivers an unsavory message from the apparently begrudging Augusta National...

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Lessons We Can Learn About a Teacher's Anti-gay Facebook Posts

(0) Comments | Posted October 24, 2011 | 5:15 PM

The investigation of Viki Knox -- the Union High School teacher whose homophobic posts on her personal Facebook page created a national frenzy -- demonstrates just how far we've come in the area of civil rights for gays and lesbians. Twenty years ago, as the Internet...

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Hoping for a Finer State of Internal Affairs for Newark's Police

(3) Comments | Posted September 13, 2011 | 11:23 AM

In the year since the ACLU of New Jersey sent a battery of grievances to the Department of Justice asking it to investigate the Newark Police Department, a few things have happened: the DOJ arrived, Police Director Garry McCarthy promptly left and, most recently, Director Samuel...

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Culture Shock in the Police Department: How the Newark Police Processed an Officer's Sexual Assault Allegation

(18) Comments | Posted June 10, 2011 | 6:32 PM

In police departments, as in biology, a culture can decide the difference between something that saves your life and something that poisons you.

The culture of a police department determines the extent of misconduct, and this certainly applies to Newark, NJ. After decades of efforts to bring accountability to the...

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Release Newark Police Director's Disciplinary Records

(0) Comments | Posted May 17, 2011 | 3:04 PM

When word of an impending transition in the Newark Police Department leadership hit the news, the ACLU of New Jersey immediately called for Mayor Cory Booker to release the Internal Affairs records of any candidate under consideration for the new or interim Newark Police Director. Later that week,...

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Janet's Choice: One Checkpoint, Two Evils

(25) Comments | Posted November 24, 2010 | 2:17 PM

Fortunately, I don't have to fly anywhere this Thanksgiving. Still, I've started to dread the airport even more than usual, and I am not looking forward to the new "choose your own adventure" awaiting me the next time I board a plane. I call it "Janet's Choice" in honor of...

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The Truth About New Jersey's Crime Statistics

(0) Comments | Posted November 24, 2010 | 12:30 PM

When it comes to understanding the 2009 statewide crime statistics that the New Jersey Attorney General's Office released this week, it's helpful to keep in mind Mark Twain's saying about the three kinds of lies: "lies, damn lies, and statistics." This principle applies fully to crime statistics and...

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A Petition for Justice in the Newark Police

(0) Comments | Posted September 9, 2010 | 3:01 PM

In the aftermath of Newark's infamous 1967 unrest, with stacks of citizen complaints in hand, the American Civil Liberties Union of New Jersey (ACLU-N) made an impassioned plea to the federal courts to rein in the rampant Newark Police Department.

Decades later, after countless lawsuits and campaigns for reform failed...

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Police Reform Can Save Newark Money and Lives

(0) Comments | Posted August 24, 2010 | 1:56 PM

Faced with a $70 million budget gap, Mayor Cory Booker has proposed cost-cutting measures ranging from layoffs to shutting down city pools to wiping out the city's toilet paper budget.

But one important area for potential multi-million dollar savings hasn't gotten the attention it deserves: cutting the astronomical costs...

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The True Costs of Police Misconduct

(0) Comments | Posted July 7, 2010 | 5:28 PM

Two weeks ago, amid news of layoffs in Newark, the City and its taxpayers took yet another financial hit: a high dollar verdict for a former police officer mistreated by the Newark Police.

A jury awarded Darren Nance $600,000, finding that the Newark Police had racially discriminated and retaliated against...

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New Jersey's Governor Cuts Women's Health Out of the Budget

(6) Comments | Posted April 14, 2010 | 11:05 AM

In his late-March budget address, New Jersey's Governor Chris Christie announced that the day of reckoning for a debt-awash Garden State had arrived. His spending plan would chart a new course, he promised.

But that course plunges New Jersey into dangerous waters, with women and children going first. Christie proposes...

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Newark Residents Have Zero Tolerance for Police Corruption

(4) Comments | Posted February 23, 2010 | 5:37 PM

When a former deputy mayor of Newark was indicted on corruption last week, the city's nationally known reformist mayor Cory Booker described his strategy to stop corruption from within.

"We don't wait for other people to investigate corruption in our city. We are aggressively working against it every single...

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Corzine on My Mind

(3) Comments | Posted November 16, 2009 | 1:15 PM

All of America watched New Jersey's gubernatorial election. Some interpreted the result as a referendum on Barack Obama's leadership, but everyone voting in our state understood that the Democrat on the ticket was Jon Corzine, and Corzine alone, not a stand-in for our president.

Corzine's loss was not an acid...

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Thirsting for Justice

(1) Comments | Posted October 31, 2009 | 4:17 PM

When most of us think about lack of access to water among the poor, we're more likely to envision people in third-world countries — victims of drought, famine or polluted rivers — rather than our neighbors here in the United States. After all, water is a necessity that we...

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Mayor Cory Booker: Please See Me After Class

(4) Comments | Posted July 14, 2009 | 1:10 PM

In his six months in office, President Obama has disappointed social justice advocates with his positions on issues like gay rights, warrantless wiretapping and, most recently, indefinite detention. We all want to see our president succeed; he generates hope and excitement, and embodies long-awaited change. But we...

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