Justice and Civil Rights-Related Research

Fighting anti-immigrant policies:

In 2013, our research in four states will help the ACLU and its local affiliates communicate with the public and lawmakers about reasons to defeat copycat proposals of the Arizona laws that allow police to question immigration status. We have also helped Rights Working Group, Breakthrough Media, the ACLU and others to communicate on policies that restrict due process for immigrants in detention or deportation.

Developing messages about terrorism and torture:

For the last decade, BRS' work for the ACLU has included message development in the debate between civil liberties and the fight against terrorism. BRS has focused on the issue of torture and the treatment of detainees as well as restrictions on civil liberties such as airport screening and the PATRIOT Act.

Communicating about the court system:

During increasing attacks on judges and the courts, BRS provided research and communications advice to the Justice at Stake Campaign to help the campaign and its partners understand Americans values as they relate to the judiciary and to communicate in ways that will connect with those values.

Recognizing judicial areas in need of reform:
For the Youth Law Center we used a national survey and focus groups to produce segmentation analysis of the public and messages to effectively communicate the need for new policies for juvenile offenders. Additionally, BRS' report for the ACLU, "Optimism, Pessimism, and Jailhouse Redemption" documented shifting American attitudes toward mandatory minimum sentences.
Raising awareness for adequate legal representation:
BRS helped develop a message for public defenders and court-appointed criminal lawyers to make the public case for more resources for indigent defense. Our focus group research for the National Legal Aid and Defender Association and the Open Society Institute was used to raise public awareness on this important issue.
Reframing the death penalty debate:

Our research and strategic advice sparked the reframing of the national debate over the death penalty. BRS worked with the ACLU to identify the most effective messages and evaluate California voters’ attitudes regarding two 2012 California ballot initiatives, one on repealing the death penalty and one on reforming the Three Strikes law.


Belden Russonello Strategists LLC2101 Connecticut Avenue NW #26, Washington, DC 20008.