Michael Brickner

Senior Policy Director, American Civil Liberties Union of Ohio
Willowick, OH

HIA Program:

Netherlands Netherlands 2002


During his tenure at the ACLU, Mike Brickner has worked on a variety of critical civil liberties movements. These include coordinating campaigns to expand and protect the right to vote, combating privatization of prisons, and promoting reforms to Ohio’s criminal justice system. In 2013, Mike co-authored two reports focusing on the intersection of poverty and the criminal justice system. The Outskirts of Hope: How Debtors’ Prisons are Ruining Lives and Costing Communities chronicled how courts were illegally imprisoning low-income Ohioans because they could not afford to pay their fines. The report culminated in the Ohio Supreme Court increasing education and training for court personnel and issuing bench cards with clear rules for collecting fines and court costs. The second 2013 report, Adding It Up: The Financial Realities of Ohio’s Pay-to-Stay Policies examined the burden placed on incarcerated people and their families by exorbitant jail fees. Mike has also become a nationally recognized expert on prison privatization. In 2013, he created a timeline documenting the rapid decline of Ohio-based Lake Erie Correctional Institution, the first state prison sold outright to a private company in the nation. Recently, Mike's 22 minute documentary on the Lake Erie prison, "Prisons for Profit," debuted at the 2015 Cleveland International Film Festival. He also co-authored and designed the ACLU’s April 2011 report, Prisons for Profit: A Look at Private Prisons. The report highlights the problems faced by other states who have privatized prisons, including: increased costs, safety problems, a lack of transparency, and increased recidivism. Mike frequently provides commentary to members of the media on core ACLU issues ranging from voting rights to ending capital punishment.