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 of Colorado Commends New Youth Corrections LGBTQI Policy

December 12, 2014

DENVER – The Colorado Division of Youth Corrections (DYC), in close collaboration with the American Civil Liberties Union of Colorado, recently adopted a landmark policy regarding the treatment of LGBTQI youth in the department’s care, including transgender and intersex youth.

The new policy will ensure that DYC staff is properly trained to meet the needs of transgender and intersex youth, that appropriate healthcare will be provided to them, that housing and search decisions will be made on a case-by-case basis, that youth are permitted to use the restroom consistent with their gender identity, that preferred names, pronouns, and uniforms are honored, and that seclusion will not be used as a method to keep LGBTQI youth ‘safe.’

Statement of ACLU of Colorado Policy and Outreach Associate Sarah Spears:

“The American Civil Liberties Union of Colorado commends the Colorado Department of Youth Corrections for making significant strides in its treatment of transgender and intersex youth by implementing this new LGBTQI statewide policy.

“DYC recognized that in order to fulfill its mission to protect, restore, and improve public safety by preparing youth to become responsible citizens, the staff must fully understand and be equipped to provide a most basic need for transgender youth, acknowledgement of identity.

“To its credit, DYC has risen to this challenge and is laying sensible groundwork to meet the needs of an increasingly visible LGBTQI youth population.

“An ACLU investigation, which followed complaints of discrimination and mistreatment from a transgender youth in DYC’s care, lay bare that DYC did not have policy or training in place to deal with issues related to gender identity and repeatedly failed to recognize the innate needs of transgender youth.

“Transgender youth are an especially vulnerable population that faces widespread bias, mistreatment, and discrimination, leading to tragically high depression and suicide rates.  The National Transgender Discrimination Survey found that 41% of transgender individuals have attempted suicide in their lifetime; nearly nine times that of the general public.

“DYC joins a small but growing number of other states and departments, including the Denver Sheriff Department, in enacting policy to protect the rights of transgender and intersex individuals in a correctional setting.

“By addressing the needs of this vulnerable population, DYC will be better positioned to achieve its mission. We are eager to see the implementation of this policy bring words into practice.”

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