Colorado Rights Blog


  • 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. 

  • Ronald Johnson is pre-diabetic, suffers from asthma and high blood pressure, and regularly uses an inhaler to breathe. His age and respiratory ailments put him at risk of serious illness and death if he contracts COVID-19. With over hundreds of active cases in Colorado’s prisons, his family fears he will not make it out alive. His daughter, Amber, says, “In prison, he can’t protect himself and he can’t social distance. My deep fear is that my dad will die in prison. That is an awful, traumatic reality to consider. My chest is tight just thinking about how quickly it spreads and how vulnerable he is.”

    Governor Hickenlooper shortened his sentence following testimony from family, friends and correctional officers advocating for his early release. Yet, he is still eight years away from parole. While he remains in prison, COVID-19 continues to spread. Ronald’s three siblings, four children and four grandchildren are desperate for his release.

    Read more about Ronald Johnson and other at-risk incarcerated people.

  • Tuesday Olson knew her pregnancy was in trouble and tried to access hospital care as soon as possible. But there was a problem: she was in jail. This is her story.
  • It’s time to end the death penalty in Colorado. Family members who lost loved ones to murder speak out against an unjust and broken system.

Advocacy Initiatives

Boulder County Chapter – Advocacy Initiatives

  • Support for Amendment 64: Marijuana prohibition disproportionately impacts minorities and the young, burdening many with permanent criminal records. The ACLU strongly supported Am. 64, and after passage, we’ve encouraged local governments to fully implement it.
  • STILL No Random Drug Tests for Boulder Workers: Boulder employers cannot do random drug tests under an ordinance our Chapter helped get passed in 1989. We recently sidetracked an attempt by the Boulder City Council to pass an exemption that would have significantly weakened this important privacy protection.
  • No Special Rights for Discriminatory Groups: The Boy Scouts exclude gay and atheist members and leaders, yet the Boulder Valley School District gave them discounted rental rates. After a 10 year effort, we convinced the District to enforce their non-discrimination policy and end this subsidy. Persistence pays!
  • Intimidation-free Voting: After a church anti-abortion display intimidated some voters at a County polling place last November, we worked with election officials to revise their polling place contract so this won’t happen again.
  • License Plate Scanner Privacy Protection: Countless innocent drivers are at risk of the government data-mining retained license plate scans that can track their location and movements. We are pushing for a protective ordinance in Boulder and other County communities to limit scanners to legitimate law enforcement purposes, like finding stolen cars, and protect privacy.
  • Rights of the Homeless: Worked with the ACLU of Colorado as they litigated CITY OF BOULDER V. MADISON, a case brought forth after the City of Boulder passed an ordinance that criminalizes homelessness. Under this ordinance, homeless persons in Boulder are at risk of being arrested and prosecuted if they use any protection from the elements other than clothing (including blankets or sleeping bags) while sleeping outside, even if these are being used to protect individuals against hypothermia and frostbite. UPDATE: The Colorado Supreme Court declined to hear our appeal of this case, effectively ending litigation. This leaves legislative solutions to the problem, either at the city or state level, as the remaining options.
  • Prisoner Rights: Worked with the ACLU of Colorado as they successfuly litigated CLAY V. PELLE, a lawsuit challenging the Boulder County Jail’s new policy that forbids prisoners to send letters, restricting their outgoing correspondence to 4″x6″ postcards supplied by the jail. This policy unjustifiably limited the First Amendment rights of the prisoners, as well as their free-world corespondents who wish to receive the prisoners’ written communications. As a result of litigation, the jail agreed to rescind the policy.
  • Right to Petition the Government: Working with the City to stop unreasonable limits on the content of citizens’ speech during open public forums as proposed under the new decorum rules for Boulder City Council speakers.
  • Right to Protest: Provided observers at the Occupy Boulder event to ensure that First Amendment rights were upheld, handing out hundreds of ACLU “Know Your Rights” cards to participants.
  • Death Penalty: Advocated successfully for the Boulder County DA to not seek the death penalty in a recent Boulder murder.
  • Freedom of the Press: Defended a CU student’s right to free speech and to publish a controversial newsletter after he was threatened by the administration with possible legal action because some claimed the newsletter was “offensive.”
  • Student Privacy: Helped a parents’ group convince the Boulder Valley schools to abandon a program that Fingerprinting schoolchildren for use in lunchlines. Under this program, BVSD students would have their biometric data gathered and kept on file without parental consent.
  • Freedom of Speech to the Police: Derailed a law against “taunting or provoking” police officers by words alone that invited arbitrary arrest to silence vocal opponents of police abuse. The City Council of Lafayette dropped the law after the ACLU and citizens objected.
  • Artistic Freedom: Protected the rights of protesters and artists who choose to express their First Amendment right to free expression through public nudity so that they are no longer required to register as sex offenders. We consulted with city and state governments as they revised indecent exposure laws so that civic and artistic acts of public nudity are differentiated from sex crimes.