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 Joins Campaign To Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol

The ACLU of Colorado has joined the Campaign to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol, a coalition in support of a 2012 ballot initiative to end marijuana prohibition in Colorado. The initiative would make marijuana legal for adults, take marijuana out of the black market, and establish a system in which it is regulated and taxed similar to alcohol.

Want to help out? Visit the campaign website — – to join the fight, read the full text of the initiative, and find out how to get involved. The campaign is in the process of collecting the 140,000+ signatures needed to ensure the measure qualifies for the ballot. We have more than 50,000 signatures now, and we are looking for more volunteers to help us get this initiative on the ballot. To get involved, go to

In Colorado we believe our laws should be practical and they should be fair. Yet we are wasting scarce public resources in our criminal justice system by having police, prosecutors and the courts treat marijuana users like violent criminals. It is unconscionable for our state to spend tax dollars to arrest, prosecute and crowd the courts, and jail people for possession of a small amount of marijuana, especially when those being arrested and jailed are disproportionately people of color.

The war on drugs has failed. Prohibition is not a sensible way to deal with marijuana. The Campaign to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol will move us toward a more rational approach to drug laws.

• Colorado authorities made 17,000 arrests for drug offenses last year. Every dollar spent policing low-level adult marijuana wastes scarce public safety resources that could be used to prevent and solve serious violent crimes.

• One in five people in Colorado’s prisons are serving time for a drug offense. Every person we lock up for a non-violent drug offense uses a scare and expensive resource—a prison bed—that could otherwise be reserved for violent criminals who pose a real threat to the public.

• This initiative is a significant step toward dismantling the failed War on Drugs, and one of its defining injustices. Across the country, people of color, particularly youth of color, are far more likely than whites to be arrested for low-level marijuana possession, despite the fact that usage rates are at least as high among whites.

• Colorado has the authority and the autonomy to craft its own drug laws and to decide what conduct to criminalize, or not, under state law. When we look at the federal Controlled Substances Act, we see that Congress has purposely created a vigorous and independent role for states to enact and enforce their own drug laws.

• Colorado currently allows people to possess, cultivate and distribute marijuana for medical purposes. The federal government has never challenged this law as being an affront to federal authority.

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