Colorado Rights Blog


  • 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. 

  • Ronald Johnson is pre-diabetic, suffers from asthma and high blood pressure, and regularly uses an inhaler to breathe. His age and respiratory ailments put him at risk of serious illness and death if he contracts COVID-19. With over hundreds of active cases in Colorado’s prisons, his family fears he will not make it out alive. His daughter, Amber, says, “In prison, he can’t protect himself and he can’t social distance. My deep fear is that my dad will die in prison. That is an awful, traumatic reality to consider. My chest is tight just thinking about how quickly it spreads and how vulnerable he is.”

    Governor Hickenlooper shortened his sentence following testimony from family, friends and correctional officers advocating for his early release. Yet, he is still eight years away from parole. While he remains in prison, COVID-19 continues to spread. Ronald’s three siblings, four children and four grandchildren are desperate for his release.

    Read more about Ronald Johnson and other at-risk incarcerated people.

  • Tuesday Olson knew her pregnancy was in trouble and tried to access hospital care as soon as possible. But there was a problem: she was in jail. This is her story.
  • It’s time to end the death penalty in Colorado. Family members who lost loved ones to murder speak out against an unjust and broken system.

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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