Colorado Rights Blog


  • Cedric Watkins is a father, uncle, entrepreneur-in-training, and a vital community pillar for many others. While behind bars, he has tirelessly devoted himself to serving his peers and his community. He developed gang disaffiliation programs for other incarcerated individuals and is currently involved with Defy Ventures. He sends letters and calls his daughter as much as he can.

    Cedric is currently in prison at Sterling Correctional Facility. He was convicted of aggravated robbery, burglary, kidnapping, theft and sentenced to 80 years; no one was seriously injured or killed. For comparison, a person convicted of second-degree murder in Colorado faces a maximum sentence of 48 years. Cedric has already served 20 years and has fully rehabilitated during that time.

    It’s time to bring Cedric home: Redemption is real. Clemency is compassion.

  • On November 21, 2016, 13 Aurora police officers responded to a simple noise complaint at Alberto Torres’s home. As happens all too often, Aurora police officers escalated this minor issue into a brutal affair. They beat Mr. Torres solely because he delayed exiting his garage to ask his wife to interpret for him. With that beating, the lives of Mr. Torres and every member of his family were changed and he has yet to recover. ACLU of Colorado fought to obtain justice for Mr. Torres, and Aurora has now paid him $285,000. But money is not justice, and the brutality of the Aurora Police Department against people of color has continued unabated.

    It doesn’t have to be this way.

    Imagine, if instead of 13 officers being dispatched to Mr. Torres’s home for a noise complaint, the City of Aurora sent a civilian-led response team to check on his welfare and ask that he and his friends lower their sound, resulting in a non-violent solution to a minor issue?

    ACLU Settles Case With Aurora After Police Brutalize and Unlawfully Arrest Alberto Torres

  • Hope is a discipline. It’s a commitment that together, we can create a more perfect union. We won’t rest until we fulfill the promise of equal rights for ALL people in the United States.

    Join us in our fight to fulfill this promise and move forward with hope by donating to the ACLU of Colorado. Your donation supports the ACLU’s strengths that make our work effective and collaborative.

    Donate now at

  • Anthony Martinez is 84-years-old and suffering from renal failure, as well as other serious medical conditions including dementia. He is currently incarcerated in the Sterling Correctional Facility, site of one of Colorado’s largest COVID-19 outbreaks with almost 600 active COVID-19 cases. He and his family are understandably terrified that he will catch the virus and die.

    In the midst of this public health crisis, incarcerated people as vulnerable as Anthony, could and should be immediately released to safely live out their remaining years with family.

    Read more about Anthony Martinez and other at-risk incarcerated people. 

A Letter from June Fraser Thistle

I am writing to ask you to support SB21-062 because had this bill been law, it could have saved my son’s life. Our son, Jerid Jason Thistle, was a loving son and father. He struggled with an addiction to methamphetamines that led to mental health issues.

We had a plan for Jerid to move home to Washington. It was his dream to open a home mechanic shop on our property. He was a terrific mechanic. You can ask anyone who works at the Alamosa Sheriff’s office. They all had their vehicles fixed by Jerid. We offered Jerid this dream if he completed drug treatment. He was ready to do so. But, instead, he lost his life alone in a jail cell.

Jerid faced a pending charge of theft under $500 and carrying an illegal weapon. Both the prosecutor and public defender agreed Jerid was safe for release on a non-monetary bond, but the judge refused. Jerid could not afford the $5,000 bond in his case. So his only option was pretrial incarceration.

While struggling through a painful detox with no support, and facing the reality that because he was poor, he would have to wait in jail for months until trial, Jerid felt hopeless. Three days after arrest, my son died by suicide alone in that cell.

Jerid’s suicide was a shock and I remain devasted by this loss. Detoxing in a cell, pending trial, with no intervention, is not the right response to addiction and mental health. We need a better system, where jail cells are reserved for people who pose a real safety risk and where people like my son are not driven to desperation because they can’t pay for their freedom. I ask you to please support SB21-062 not just for our son but for people like Jerid who are sitting in the Alamosa jail right now and for those who will surely follow.

Thank you,
June Fraser Thistle

Learn more about SB21-062

Take action to support SB21-062 

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