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. 

ACLU and Colorado Department of Corrections Reach Historic Settlement to Treat All Colorado Prisoners with Hepatitis C

September 12, 2018

DENVER – Under a settlement finalized this morning, the Colorado Department of Corrections has agreed to spend $41 million over two years to treat prisoners with hepatitis C. The funding is expected to provide treatment to all of the 2,200 Colorado prisoners currently infected with chronic hepatitis C.

The settlement ends a class action lawsuit brought last year by ACLU of Colorado and its cooperating attorneys at Fox Rothschild LLP. The attorneys spent more than 1,200 hours over nearly three years to achieve this settlement, which is the first in the country to result in treatment for all of a state’s prisoners with chronic hepatitis C infection.

Under the terms of the settlement:

  • CDOC will spend $20.5 million this fiscal year (July 2018-June 2019) for the treatment of inmates with chronic hepatitis C infection.
  • CDOC will request and subsequently spend approximately $20.5 million in fiscal year 2019-20 to treat inmates with chronic hepatitis C infection.
  • CDOC will no longer require inmates to undergo drug or alcohol treatment as a precondition for treatment. In addition, treatment for chronic hepatitis C infection will not be refused as a result of any disciplinary violation.
  • CDOC will provide the ACLU of Colorado with quarterly reports through July 2020 concerning the prison population with chronic hepatitis C infection and those prisoners who have been treated.
  • CDOC will pay attorneys’ fees and costs in the amount of $175,000.

Statement from ACLU of Colorado Legal Director Mark Silverstein:

“The funding and policy changes agreed to in this settlement will go a long way towards finally solving an immense public health crisis in Colorado’s prisons. The settlement brings our prison system in line with the community standard of medical care and the state’s obligations under the Constitution. Thousands of prisoners who were forced to suffer through needless barriers to treatment now have access to life-saving medication. This is a just and humane result that will save dollars in the long run.  Early detection and treatment can help stop the spread of the disease and eliminate higher medical costs down the line that come from forcing individuals to go untreated as the disease progresses. We know that this settlement will save lives here in Colorado, and we hope that it will be a model for other states as well.”

Statement from ACLU cooperating attorney Christopher Beall of Fox Rothschild LLP:

“It’s gratifying to achieve such a good result, not just for prisoners in Colorado who have been suffering with this disease for so long, but also to achieve a model for states across the country that face the exact same challenges that we see in Colorado. Prison populations across the country have significantly higher than average rates of hepatitis C infection, and being able to cure the infection in these populations will go a very long way toward reducing the public health risks for hepatitis C transmission across the country. Colorado’s bold step in agreeing to fund treatment for all prisoners is not only humane, and the right thing to do, it is also definitely a good thing from a public health perspective for the state as a whole.”

Statement from Tiffany Kaneta, daughter of Edward Kaneta, a plaintiff in the lawsuit who is now eligible to receive treatment:

“My dad went to prison when I was 6 years old. He was eligible for parole 18 years ago, after serving 20 years, but he has been denied over and over again. I don’t take my kids to see him, because I don’t want them to see their grandfather in that setting. For years, I’ve watched as he has suffered from the devastating impacts of hepatitis C, not knowing if he’d ever get access to a cure.  I’ve worried that, if he didn’t get treatment, my kids would never get to know their grandfather. Now that I know that he will have access to life-saving treatment, I am smiling from ear to ear. Without the ACLU advocating for him and others who are sick, this never would have happened. I have new hope now that my dad will get cured, get out, and finally get to play with his grandkids.”


See ACLU Lawsuit Seeks Life-Saving Treatment for Thousands of Colorado Prisoners Suffering from Hepatitis C


The ACLU of Colorado is the state’s oldest civil rights organization, protecting and defending the civil rights of all Coloradans through litigation, education and advocacy.

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