An Introduction to the GLACLU

After the results of the 2016 election, we are experiencing an influx of people interested in assisting the American Civil Liberties Union in our mission. Hello, and welcome.


The ACLU is a non-profit, non-partisan organization that seeks to protect and preserve the civil liberties granted to U.S. citizens by the Constitution and other laws in the United States. The ACLU is active nationally, and in all 50 states and Puerto Rico. Many states also have local chapters, such as the Greater Lafayette ACLU.

The Greater Lafayette ACLU was organized in 1955 and has been active over the last 60 years, with the mission to provide educational opportunities to the Greater Lafayette area, and support the Indiana ACLU with awareness, advocacy, advisement, and fundraising initiatives.

We take on politicians and government officials who ignore the Constitution and put liberty at risk. We don’t answer to polls or to the whims of the electorate. We get out the facts, and when our freedoms are on the line, we mobilize grassroots support to protect our civil liberties.

We educate the next generation of civil libertarians, and the public. Our outreach programs help thousands of Hoosiers understand their constitutional rights and what they must do to protect them.

We challenge intolerance and bigotry wherever we find it. We work to root out any and all attempts to deny people the equal protection under the law that the Constitution guarantees.


The GLACLU funds educational initiatives in Greater Lafayette and supports the state ACLU’s research, education, and litigation efforts.

The Indiana ACLU brings cases against government entities on behalf of Hoosiers whose rights have been curbed by anti-Constitutional laws brought within the state. Led by Jane Henegar and litigated by Bloomington attorney and professor Ken Falk, the Indiana chapter has an extremely successful record of litigation. Recent victories include:

The GLACLU board members meet monthly at the Unitarian Universalist church in West Lafayette, at 7PM on the second Wednesday of the month. If you are interested in attending meetings or serving on the board, please contact us to confirm meeting times, as meetings are sometimes moved. At meetings, we discuss current events, educational opportunities for the Lafayette area, upcoming state initiatives, and fundraising efforts. We have over 200 years of collective activist experience on the board, and meetings are often informative, entertaining, and inspirational.


We anticipate that many laws testing the limits of our civil liberties  — including your right to freedom of speech, your rights to privacy, your right to peacefully assemble in protest, your right to practice your religion freely without state interference, and more — will be coming to the U.S. soon. Anxieties are warranted and the ACLU is ready and able to work on your behalf.

Here’s what you can do to support us:

  1. Report violations of constitutional liberties. This is, after all, our mission. From disability rights to youth rights, to protecting prisoners from discrimination and cruel and unusual punishment, to protecting religious liberty, free speech, privacy, voting rights and much more, the ACLU is here to help you protect and preserve your Constitutional rights. For us to take up a case, the criteria are as follows:
    1. Your civil liberties must have been violated by a government entity;
    2. Your issue concerns a right or freedom protected by the U.S. or Indiana Constitutions;
    3. You are the person or party whose constitutional rights have been violated. We are not able to accept complaints made by third parties.

The Indiana ACLU accepts these complaints directly here and will notify you whether or not your case can be litigated. If it is not, we do have resources available for those who we are unable to assist with litigation.

  1. Join the local ACLU. Annual membership dues for the local chapter are $10, and help fund educational initiatives in Greater Lafayette and support the state ACLU’s research, education, and litigation efforts. Send dues along with email and/or snail mail addresses to:

ACLU of Indiana
Greater Lafayette Chapter
PO Box 2706
West Lafayette, IN 47906

We send an bi-annual newsletter by mail with editorial and informational content, and are building our email list now for calls for more immediate local action. We promise not to share your information or spam your inbox.

    1. Join the state ACLU. You will strengthen our lobbying efforts and grassroots activity by becoming a member of the state ACLU. Paying annual dues of $35 or more entitles you to a membership in BOTH the state and national ACLU.
    2. Attend a board meeting. Board meetings are on the second Wednesday of each month. We meet at the UU Church in West Lafayette, 333 Meridian St, West Lafayette, Indiana. We discuss current events, educational opportunities for the Lafayette area, upcoming state initiatives, and fundraising efforts, and welcome member participation.
    3. Attend our events. We host regular lunchtime talks, an annual fundraising dinner, and weekend events throughout the year. We discuss civil liberties issues happening locally, statewide, and nationally, and provide networking opportunities for activists to make deeper and more meaningful connections in the community.
    4. Take initiative. When the horn is sounded for action, take the time to follow through on writing or calling your representatives. Many representatives hear little from the electorate, and are voting to confirm or deny laws without much citizen input. You can change that by devoting a small amount of time following through on these calls to action. Generally speaking, a phone call is more powerful than an email. Sometimes the ACLU will need warm bodies to support organizational efforts as well. Make time to assist. Oftentimes, the time needed to assist an organization like ours is only a few hours a month or less.
    5. Support your neighbors. Living in a Big Ten town, we have a unique opportunity to seed our efforts with locals, faculty, and students, some of whom will stay and grow a culture of advocacy and organization in Greater Lafayette, and some who will take their experiences with them to new areas of the state, nation and globe. It is important that we listen to, respect, and support one another during anxious times, and nurture a culture of advocacy and organization so our efforts can continue wherever we end up.
    6. Get active, period. The ACLU may not be the right organization for your time and energy, and we appreciate that. There may be other organizations that better fit your resources and expertise. Find them, ask what they need, and then do that. Become an expert in it, and tell everyone you know why this work is so important. The secret sauce of political organizing is awareness, amplification, and learning how to show up and show out — every time, en masse.

We welcome your interest in our organization and are thrilled to have your attention.  Please continue to agitate for the respect and preservation of civil liberties while we plan the 2017 season of the GLACLU. We promise we have much in store for you in the coming days.

Lauren Bruce
Judy Weitzman
Presidents, Greater Lafayette ACLU

Rethinking Incarceration

Originally published Spring 2010

Indiana’s fiscal difficulties had one happy consequence: it resulted in a 2010 General Assembly session that passed remarkably few new crimes or enhanced sentences. Larry Landis, Executive Director of the Indiana Public Defender Council, said this year’s low number was a record.

The reason for this restraint, of course, is that the cost of incarceration is enormous. And what’s worse, as costs increase and resources disappear, Indiana like many other states has cut back on prison programs like education and recreation, which increases the likelihood of recidivism and its future costs.

Alternatives to incarceration not only save money – money that could fund public education, for example – but they also promote rehabilitation, community reentry and the re-establishing of social ties.

One promising alternative is the use of problem-solving courts. A bill that seems headed for enactment would permit city or county courts to set up a variety of treatment diversions for offenders. These could include but are not limited to drug courts, family dependency drug courts, mental health courts, reentry courts, domestic violence courts, veteran’s courts, and community courts to address specific neighborhood or local criminal problems. The due process concerns with the original bill have been eased by amendments.

The Assembly was also creative in handling a bill criminalizing a juvenile’s creating, transmitting or possessing sexually provocative video or text messages. “Sexting”, as this has come to be called, is an issue of great interest in many legislatures this year. It’s not a new preoccupation of teens; it’s simply the use of the newest technology for them to explore and express their sexuality.

Sexting is of course ill-advised, but for politicians to make it a delinquent act would expose a large number of teens to the criminal justice system. The cost to them and to the taxpayers would be great. If punishment were to include incarceration, the costs would escalate. The average cost of housing a juvenile in a state juvenile facility was $75,050 in FY 2009.

Confronted with these fiscal realities, the legislature decided to refer the sexting bill to a summer study committee for its recommendations and to permit schools to offer instruction regarding the risks and consequences of sending sexually suggestive materials electronically.

This openness to exploring alternative ways of addressing undesirable behavior is wise and socially beneficial.

We should each make it a point to encourage our legislators to continue it even when funding becomes less dire.