Annual Report 2023

February 21, 2024

2023 was a critical year for the expansion of civil right and liberties in Connecticut. Thanks to our partner organizations, community activists, and supporters, we were able to accomplish so much this past year. As you read our 2023 Annual Report, we hope you feel proud as an important partner to an institution as central to our democracy as the ACLU.

ACLU of Connecticut 2023 Annual Report

Letter from the ACLU of Connecticut Executive Director and Board President

Thank you for standing with us on this transformative journey.

The district courthouse in New Haven, CT with a painting-like filter over it.

Founded in 1949, the ACLU of Connecticut has embarked on a resilient journey dedicated to a more fair, free, and equitable Connecticut. Since then, thanks to our partner organizations, community activists, and supporters like you, we have played a pivotal role in the expansion of civil rights and liberties in Connecticut. This anniversary is an opportunity to reflect on the organization’s commitment to an equitable, democratic, and anti-racist Connecticut in which all persons are treated with dignity in a thriving society.

Throughout the last 75 years, we have fought for the rights of all people on an array of many issues – from 1965, when our legal teamwork successfully overturned the state's birth control ban, to 2012 when our advocacy efforts, alongside others, secured the legislative repeal of the death penalty in Connecticut, and in 2023 we helped pass early voting and the most comprehensive state-level voting rights act. These victories, each building upon the other, showcase the power of our integrated advocacy approach, leveraging litigation, lobbying, and education to forge lasting change. We will continue to show up whenever people’s rights are in jeopardy, holding the line for democracy while seizing every opportunity to create proactive change.

As you read our 2023 Annual Report, we hope you feel proud as an important partner to an institution as central to our democracy as the ACLU. We look back at the last 75 years with gratitude for the support that made these achievements possible and forward with eagerness for continued collaboration in shaping a Connecticut where the flame of justice burns brightly for generations to come. Thank you for standing with us on this transformative journey.

In solidarity,

Margie Adler, Board President

David McGuire, Executive Director

Legal Highlights

The ACLU Foundation of CT had many other legal actions and litigation on dozens of issues including: Voting rights, LGBTQ rights, immigrants rights, women’s rights, government transparency, free speech, police accountability, and more.

Our Senior Staff Attorney and our Legal Fellow stands in front of the appellate court house with one of our clients.

Eliminating Prison Debt in Connecticut – Beatty v. Lamont

Representing clients Teresa Beatty, Natasha Tosado, and Doug Johnson, the ACLU Foundation of CT filed Beatty v. Lamont to argue that Connecticut’s prison debt laws are unconstitutional. Under Connecticut’s cruel prison debt law, the State charges people hundreds of dollars for each day they are incarcerated after they’ve been released, and this consequential debt follows them for decades. The legal team looks forward to bringing victory home for their clients in 2024.

A Win for Transgender Rights – Clark v. Quiros

A federal court ruled in favor of the ACLU Foundation of CT’s client Veronica-May Clark (an incarcerated transgender woman) in her lawsuit, challenging the Connecticut Department of Correction’s failure to provide medically necessary care for years. The ruling is the first time that a court in our federal circuit has held prison officials to account for refusing to treat gender dysphoria with the full range of medically necessary interventions.

Protecting Free Speech – Friend v. Gasparino

In February of last year, our regional federal appellate court held that the ACLU Foundation of CT’s client Mike Friend’s free speech rights were violated when he was arrested for warning motorists that police were giving out tickets up the street. The ruling in Mr. Friend's favor makes clear that the First Amendment broadly protects a person's ability to speak about what they see the police doing in public.


Thanks to cooperating firm Hurwitz Sagarin Slossberg & Knuff, co-counsel David Slossberg, Erica Nolan, and Kristen Zaehringer. Thanks to cooperating firm Finn Dixon & Herling, co-counsel Dan Noble, Matt Danzer, and Kelsey Powderly.

Advancing Voting Rights

This year, we worked to advance and expand voting rights in Connecticut with the CTVRA.

Photo of ACLU-CT staff and Rise PAC volunteers in the office with Rise PAC signs.

Defending Democracy in Connecticut with the Connecticut Voting Rights Act

This year, we worked to pass the most comprehensive state-level voting rights act in the country: An Act Concerning State Voting Rights in Recognition of John R. Lewis or the CTVRA. Setting a new standard for voting rights across the country, the CTVRA…

  • Launches a "preclearance" program requiring local governments with a record of discrimination to prove that certain changes in voting laws won't harm voters of color before the laws can go into effect
  • Provides new legal tools to fight discriminatory voting rules
  • Expands language assistance for voters
  • Strengthens protections against voter intimidation, deception, or obstruction
  • Establishes a secure central hub for election data and demographic information, increasing transparency and voters' ability to fight for accessible elections
  • Instructs judges to review state and local laws and rules in a pro-democracy manner to optimize accessibility to a citizen's right to vote

Vote Early in 2024!

That's right! You can vote early in 2024!

Two ballot boxes are in front of the West Hartford Town Hall with a painting-like filter on top.

The new law establishes Connecticut's early voting system by requiring:

  • For general elections: 14 days of early voting, including weekends, beginning in the 30 days before Election Day.
  • Early voting locations will be open from 10a.m. to6p.m. andfrom8a.m. to8 p.m. on the last Tuesday and Thursday before the election.
  • Each municipality will have at least 1 designated early-voting polling location. Municipalities of more than 20,000 people will have the option to establish additional early voting locations.
  • For non-presidential primary elections: 7 days of early voting before a primary.
  • For special elections and presidential primaries: 4 days of early voting before a special election or presidential primary.


The ACLU of Connecticut Rise PAC was instrumental in the passage of early voting.

Staff Highlight: Jess Zaccagnino

Thank you Jess for all the dedication, time, and energy you've put towards the critical work that we do.

Photo of Jess, our policy counsel, holding a sign and smiling at the camera.

Jess Zaccagnino joined us in 2021 as Policy Counsel. In her role, Jess executes the ACLU-CT’s legislative agenda, engaging with administrative agencies and local government bodies, and working with fellow advocacy organizations to advance shared goals specifically through legislative policy research, analysis, drafting, and advocacy.

In her time with us, Jess has testified on 200 bills, written over 800 pages of testimony, and engaged in 909 hours of lobbying.

We thank Jess and all of our hardworking staff for the countless hours of work and dedication they commit every day to demand meaningful change in our state.

Legislative and Advocacy Wins

2023 was a busy, and successful, year for our Public Policy and Advocacy Team!

Smart Justice leaders are smiling at the camera in front of the Capitol building with signs that promote prosecutorial accountability.

Increasing Transparency and Accountability in the Criminal Legal System

State Attorneys hold people’s lives in their hands and, yet, they are among the least accountable actors in the criminal legal system. After three years, Smart Justice pushed an Act Concerning Prosecutorial Accountability over the finish line, providing more oversight, transparency, and accountability for prosecutors.

Protecting Kids from Police Deception

After years of effort, the legislature passed a first-step bill to ban police from using deceptive interrogation tactics against people under 18 years old. This bill bans…

  • Depriving a child of food, sleep, or other health needs
  • Using or threatening to use force against a child
  • Threatening a child with punishments
  • Threatening to arrest and charge another person who has not committed a crime
  • Lying about evidence of guilt, leniency, and the law
  • Telling a child about evidence and inducing them to make the evidence part of their statement

Thank you to the Innocence Project and many others for working with us to protect children in our state from deceptive police interrogation tactics.

Opportunity for Justice-Impacted People

In solidarity with Stop Solitary CT, the Yale Transitions Clinic, and more, we worked to pass legislation that (1) ensures everyone leaving prison in Connecticut has a state ID, which is critical for accessing jobs and housing, and (2) allows parole hearings for people who were under 21 years at the time they were sentenced.

Advocating for Reproductive Freedom

This year, we were proudly in solidarity with Pro-Choice CT, Planned Parenthood Votes! CT, and others. With our colleagues, we supported bills advancing reproductive freedom and maternal health, such as one that protects abortion providers in our state from lawsuits by other states and another that protects people’s sensitive health information from abuse and exploitation.

ACLU of CT Introduces New Office in Fairfield County

If you haven’t heard, the ACLU of Connecticut has recently opened a new workspace in Stamford. This base site in Fairfield County will centralize the work we are already doing and will continue to do in Fairfield County communities.

Erycka, our field organizer, stands behind an ACLU-CT branded podium with a mic in her hand.

The ACLU of Connecticut opened a satellite office in Fairfield County to deepen our roots in the community and further our ongoing commitment to sustained work in the area. It’s clear that Fairfield County has both a dynamic and diverse population with a vibrant political landscape that serves as a crucial center of influence in Connecticut. Therefore, setting up an office with staff dedicated to the area positions us to build on these foundations and continue making meaningful change. We look forward to forging and strengthening relationships in this county, setting the stage for larger and bolder changes for our state.