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 Demands DHS End Solitary Confinement of Children

April 11, 2013

ACLU Demands Department of Human Services End Solitary Confinement of Children in Pueblo Residential Treatment Center

Prolonged seclusion of children at El Pueblo Boys and Girls Ranch violates Department’s child care regulations

DENVER – In a letter sent today, the ACLU of Colorado (ACLU) demanded that the Colorado Department of Human Services (DHS) enforce its own regulations by stopping a Pueblo residential treatment center from imposing solitary confinement on children entrusted to its care.

The letter, directed to DHS Executive Director Reggie Bicha, called for “immediate action” to stop what the ACLU called a routine practice at El Pueblo Boys and Girls Ranch, where at-risk children are confined in so-called “Reflection Cottages,” in direct violation of DHS regulations.

“El Pueblo is routinely forcing children, many of whom suffer from developmental and mental disabilities, to endure days and sometimes weeks of solitary confinement in so-called ‘reflection cottages,’” said Mark Silverstein, ACLU Legal Director. “In doing so, this facility is violating DHS regulations, court decisions, and widely-accepted standards for the treatment of troubled youth.”

El Pueblo’s “Reflection Cottages” are small concrete rooms with no furniture, other than a concrete slab that serves as a bed. Children are forbidden to speak with others and must ask permission to use the bathroom. Children are not allowed to go outside or given the opportunity to exercise.

DHS child care regulations clearly prohibit seclusion of children “except in emergency situations and only after all less restrictive alternatives have been exhausted.” The rules also specify that seclusion should not exceed two hours except in the most extraordinary cases and should end when the emergency passes. According to the ACLU’s letter, however, El Pueblo routinely forces each child entering the program to spend at least two days in solitary. Children are often confined for additional time in the “Reflection Cottages” for days and sometimes even weeks as punishment for minor infractions, such as verbal disrespect of a staff member.

According to the ACLU, forcing children to endure solitary confinement poses significant mental and emotional risks to troubled children, who have fewer psychological resources than adults to manage the stress, anxiety, and discomfort of such intense isolation. This is particularly true for the many young persons at El Pueblo who suffer from developmental and mental disabilities.

The ACLU’s letter calls on DHS to either bring El Pueblo into full compliance with state regulations or rescind the facility’s license to operate as a residential child care facility.

“El Pueblo presents itself to the outside world as a treatment community that helps at-risk youth to heal, learn, and grow,” adds Silverstein. “Confining troubled children for days and weeks in bare concrete isolation rooms does not promote healing.”

More information on this case.

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