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 Lawsuit Challenges Random Urine Tests at Greyhound Racetrack


March 16, 2000

The American Civil Liberties Union of Colorado (ACLU) filed suit today to challenge a Colorado rule that requires all state-licensed participants in the greyhound racing industry to submit urine samples that will be tested for drugs. State officials demand the samples on a random basis, without any suspicion that the individuals to be tested have been using drugs.


"Random urine testing unfairly treats innocent workers like criminals, " said Mark Silverstein, ACLU Legal Director. "It is a degrading and unnecessary invasion of personal privacy."


The lawsuit was filed on behalf of Cynthia and Gary Timm, Colorado Springs residents who in 1997 obtained a license to train greyhounds at kennels located at Colorado racetracks. After Colorado adopted the urine testing policy in 1999, Cynthia Timm was randomly selected and ordered to provide a sample of her urine. When she refused, her license was revoked.


"A urine test is a search that is governed by the requirements of the Constitution," Silverstein said. "It can be justified only by good cause, which was completely absent in this case. No state official ever had any grounds to suspect that Cynthia Timm was using drugs."


According to Silverstein, Ms. Timm justifiably relied on her rights when she refused to provide the sample. "The State of Colorado had no right to force our client to choose between her constitutional rights and her license to work as a trainer with her husband," Silverstein said.


In November, Gary Timm was selected at random. Because he could not afford to lose his license and his livelihood, Silverstein said, Timm submitted the sample under duress.


"Everyone agrees that drugs and alcohol don't belong in the workplace," Silverstein continued. "But random urine testing is an ineffective, unreliable, and senselessly degrading ritual that does not reveal current impairment." According to the ACLU, a worker can snort cocaine on the way to work and still test negative that same morning, because the cocaine will not have metabolized and will therefore not show up in the urine. On the other hand, a worker who puffs marijuana on Saturday night will test positive on Monday morning, long after the marijuana has ceased to have any effect.


"Courts permit random drug tests only when the government can demonstrate an overriding special need, " Silverstein said. "One example is jobs that are very safety-sensitive, where an impaired worker poses a serious risk of danger to the public. There is no such danger in this case, and no overriding special need. Colorado may be the only state that forces greyhound trainers like the Timms to submit to random urine tests."


The lawsuit, filed in Denver District Court, asks the court to restore Ms. Timm's license; to declare that the drug testing policy is unconstitutional; and to stop random tests in the future. Defendants are David Reitz, Director of the Division of Racing Events of the Colorado Department of Revenue, as well as the five members of the Colorado Racing Commission.

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