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 Announces Settlement of Recently Filed Lawsuit; Denver Agrees to Disclose Jail Policies and Procedures Manual

June 18, 2008

The ACLU of Colorado announced today that it has settled a lawsuit against Denver that sought the policy and procedure manual that governs the processing and treatment of detainees at Denver’s downtown city jail, known as the Pre-Arraignment Detention Facility, or PADF. As part of the settlement, Denver agreed to disclose all portions of the manual designated by the ACLU, and to pay $5,000 of the ACLU of Colorado’s attorney fees and costs. The PADF is Denver’s intake center, where arrestees are first taken to be booked, fingerprinted, given the opportunity to post bond, and housed until they are released or eventually transferred to Denver’s larger county jail.

According to the lawsuit, despite repeated requests from the ACLU, Denver refused to disclose sections of the manual claiming that disclosure would be “contrary to the public interest.” After a final request for voluntary disclosure was again refused by Denver, the ACLU filed suit on May 19, 2008, seeking disclosure of the manual under the Colorado open records laws. Just prior to the first court hearing in the case that was scheduled for June 19, 2008, Denver agreed to turn over all manual sections designated by the ACLU on or before June 25, 2008, subject to redaction. Under the terms of the settlement agreement, the ACLU can challenge in court any redactions it believes are unjustified.

“We are certainly pleased that the City has agreed to release the records,” said John Culver, an ACLU Cooperating Attorney who is lead counsel in the case. “Disclosure of the manual is firmly within the public interest, and the City’s policies at the jail should be transparent and open to any member of the public who wants to view them.”

Disclosure of the manual was necessary in part, the ACLU argued in the lawsuit, because of the possibility of mass arrests in connection with protests at the upcoming Democratic National Convention in Denver. According to papers filed in court, last summer the ACLU asked Denver police to handle minor violations with a summons or a notice to appear in court, a practice known as “cite and release.” Denver Police Department Deputy Chief Battista reportedly responded that under Denver’s current policy, police must make full custodial arrests—requiring detention in the PADF—for even minor violations connected with protests. The ACLU argued in the lawsuit that the public had a right to know whether Denver’s policies and procedures at the PADF were adequate to handle the mass influx of arrestees that could result as a consequence of such a policy during the DNC, especially after the events surrounding the Columbus Day protests in October of 2007 when just eighty arrests overwhelmed the PADF and resulted in delays of up to 12 hours before arrestees who had already posted bond were released. At the 2004 Republican National Convention in New York City, police made over 1800 arrests causing serious problems with access to medical care, food, attorneys, and sanitary facilities.

“Denver has certainly done the right thing by finally releasing these policies,” stated ACLU of Colorado Staff Attorney Taylor Pendergrass, “We are disappointed that it took a lawsuit and Denver’s expenditure of $5,000 of Denver taxpayers’ money, however, to convince Denver to release documents that we believe clearly should have been disclosed in the first place.”
Under the terms of the settlement, Denver does not admit any liability or fault for refusing to disclose the portions of the manual sought by the ACLU.

The settlement of this case is unconnected to a separate lawsuit between the ACLU and Denver where the ACLU is seeking disclosure, under the Colorado open records laws, of records regarding how Denver is spending public moneys on less-lethal weaponry and other equipment prior to the DNC. A hearing in that case has been scheduled for June 24, 2008 at 8:30 a.m. in Denver District Court.

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