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 Calls on Biden Administration to Provide Vaccine Access to All Immigrants Detained at Aurora ICE Processing Center

ICE’s Lack of a Plan Puts People in Detention and Surrounding Communities at Risk

May 27, 2021

DENVER, CO. — The ACLU of Colorado sent a letter today to the Immigration and Customs Enforcement Field Office Director John Fabbricatore demanding that he provide vaccine access to the 563 people in detention at the Aurora ICE Processing Center. The American Civil Liberties Union sent a letter to Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro Mayorkas and Acting Director of Immigration and Customs Enforcement Tae Johnson making a similar demand for the more than 15,000 people in ICE custody nationwide, and ACLU affiliates in nine states — Arizona, Colorado, Louisiana, Mississippi, Nebraska, New Mexico, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Texas — all sent similar letters to their local ICE field directors as well.

“ICE detention centers are no different than jails and prisons. These types of facilities are a virus’ delight. With no way to adhere to CDC guidelines, the virus can spread easily and quickly,” said Denise Maes, ACLU of Colorado Public Policy Director. “The answer is to depopulate the facility and vaccinate those persons housed there. And do it now.”

“Over the course of the pandemic, ICE detention facilities have been some of the worst hotspots for the spread of COVID-19, with positivity rates five times greater than prison and 20 times greater than the general U.S. population,” said Eunice Cho, senior staff attorney with the ACLU’s National Prison Project. “Despite this clear, irrefutable evidence of the high risk of COVID-19 to detained people, ICE staff, and surrounding communities, the agency still has no clear plan to ensure that people in detention can be vaccinated. COVID-19 outbreaks continue to spread in detention.  This is unacceptable and unconscionable, especially at a time where there is ample vaccine availability. Our government can and must ensure all detained people have access to the vaccines, and quickly. Doing so is a matter of life and death.”

The letter reads: “ICE’s failure to ensure a coordinated strategy for vaccination continues to endanger people in detention nationwide. ICE’s COVID-19 plan has left it to individual detention facilities to “contact their state’s COVID-19 vaccine resource . . . to obtain vaccine.” This vaccination approach, however, has led to widespread failure. While more than 60 percent of adults in the United States have received at least one dose of a vaccine, the vast majority of people in ICE detention have yet to receive a dose.”

The ACLU is also demanding ICE to provide linguistically and culturally appropriate education materials; ensure people who have declined vaccination are reoffered the opportunity regularly and are offered the opportunity to speak with a medical provider; can receive the vaccine within 48 hours of request; make arrangements for a second dose for all people who are released and/or transferred after their first dose.

Fiscal Year 2020 was the deadliest year in ICE detention in 15 years, but — as a recent report from the ACLU pointed out — the number of deaths due to COVID-19 was likely higher than the agency reported due to the undercounting of people who died after they were released to the hospital. During the pandemic, there were also reports of increased use of force, solitary confinement, patterns of sexual abuse, forced sterilizations, and an utter failure to protect people from COVID-19.

In April, the ACLU sent a letter to Department of Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas, calling for the shut down of 39 ICE detention facilities, as well as a commitment to let the people who were released during the pandemic to remain free. The administration announced that it would close two of the facilities named in that campaign — Irwin County Detention Center and Bristol County Sheriff’s Office — last week.

The full letter is online here.

ACLU de Colorado Exige que la Administración de Biden Proporcione Acceso a las Vacunas a Todos los Inmigrantes Detenidos en el Centro de Procesamiento de Aurora ICE

La falta de un plan de ICE pone a las personas en detención y a las comunidades circundantes en riesgo

DENVER, CO. – El ACLU de Colorado envió hoy una carta al Director de la Oficina de Campo del Servicio de Inmigración y Control de Aduanas, John Fabbricatore, exigiendo que proporcione acceso a las vacunas a las 563 personas detenidas en el centro de procesamiento de Aurora ICE. La Unión Estadounidense de Libertades Civiles envió una carta al Secretario de Seguridad Nacional, Alejandro Mayorkas, y al Director Interino de Inmigración y Control de Aduanas, Tae Johnson, haciendo una demanda similar para las más de 15,000 personas bajo custodia de ICE en todo el país y las afiliadas de ACLU en nueve estados: Arizona, Colorado, Louisiana, Mississippi, Nebraska, Nuevo México, Ohio, Pensilvania y Texas, todos enviaron cartas similares a sus directores de campo locales de ICE.

“Los centros de detención de ICE no son diferentes a las cárceles y prisiones. Este tipo de instalaciones son un deleite para los virus. Sin forma de cumplir con las pautas de los CDC, el virus puede propagarse fácil y rápidamente. La respuesta es despoblar las instalaciones y vacunar a esas personas alojado allí. Ahora “.,” dijo Denise Maes, Directora de Políticas Públicas de ACLU de Colorado. 

“Durante el transcurso de la pandemia, los centros de detención de ICE han sido algunos de los peores puntos críticos para la propagación del COVID-19, con tasas de positividad cinco veces más que en prisión y 20 veces más que la población general de Estados Unidos,” dijo Eunice Cho, abogada senior del Proyecto Nacional de Prisiones de ACLU. “A pesar de esta evidencia clara e irrefutable del alto riesgo de COVID-19 para las personas detenidas, el personal de ICE y las comunidades circundantes, la agencia aún no tiene un plan claro para garantizar que las personas detenidas puedan ser vacunadas. Los brotes de COVID-19 continúan propagándose durante la detención. Esto es inaceptable e inconcebible, especialmente en un momento en el que existe una amplia disponibilidad de vacunas. Nuestro gobierno puede y debe garantizar que todas las personas detenidas tengan acceso a las vacunas y con rapidez. Hacerlo es una cuestión de vida o muerte.”

La carta dice: “El hecho de que ICE no garantice una estrategia coordinada de vacunación sigue poniendo en peligro a las personas detenidas en todo el país. El plan COVID-19 de ICE ha dejado en manos de los centros de detención individuales el “ponerse en contacto con el recurso de vacunas COVID-19 de su estado . . . para obtener la vacuna.”

Sin embargo, este enfoque de vacunación ha provocado un fracaso generalizado. Si bien más del 60 por ciento de los adultos en los Estados Unidos han recibido al menos una dosis de una vacuna, la gran mayoría de las personas detenidas por ICE aún no han recibido una dosis.”

El ACLU también está exigiendo a ICE que proporcione materiales educativos lingüística y culturalmente apropiados; asegurarse de que a las personas que han rechazado la vacunación se les vuelva a ofrecer la oportunidad con regularidad y se les ofrezca la oportunidad de hablar con un proveedor médico; puede recibir la vacuna dentro de las 48 horas posteriores a la solicitud; Haga arreglos para una segunda dosis para todas las personas que sean dadas de alta y / o transferidas después de su primera dosis.

El año fiscal 2020 fue el año más mortífero en detenciones de ICE en 15 años, pero, como señaló un informe reciente de la ACLU, la cantidad de muertes por COVID-19 probablemente fue más alto que lo que informó la agencia debido al recuento insuficiente de personas que murieron después de que fueran dados de alta al hospital. Durante la pandemia, también hubo informes de un mayor uso de la fuerza, confinamiento solitario, patrones de abuso sexual, esterilizaciones forzadas y un fracaso total para proteger a las personas de COVID-19.

En abril, ACLU envió una carta al secretario del Departamento de Seguridad Nacional, Alejandro Mayorkas, pidiendo el cierre de 39 centros de detención de ICE, así como el compromiso de dejar en libertad a las personas que fueron liberadas durante la pandemia. La administración anunció que cerraría dos de las instalaciones nombradas en esa campaña, el Centro de Detención del Condado de Irwin y la Oficina del Sheriff del Condado de Bristol, la semana pasada.

La carta completa está en línea aquí.

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