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  • 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 of Colorado statement on schools banning personal displays of flags

In response to questions prompted by recent decisions of some school administrators to ban the display of flags and other expressive symbols, ACLU Legal Director Mark Silverstein made the following statement:

Students have a right of expression that includes the right to express their views on the controversies of their times, and they can do so through symbols as well as words. Students’ right of expression in public schools should be given as much room as possible. Thus, instead of restricting expression, school officials should encourage students to reflect, to analyze, and to express their views. Schools should also teach students how to grapple appropriately with controversial issues and with persons who hold opposing views.

School administrators should be required to justify any restrictions on students’ right of expression by pointing to specific facts that show that restrictions are necessary to ensure students’ safety or to prevent disruption of classes. In the ACLU’s view, many schools are too quick to restrict students’ right of expression. Unfortunately, federal courts interpreting the First Amendment tend to defer too much to school officials who claim a need to restrict students speech.

A Colorado statute guarantees the right to display the American flag “on an individual’s person.” Thus, even if a court finds that a “no flags” rule is consistent with the First Amendment, such a rule violates Colorado law. The Colorado statute, however, applies only to American flags, which raises another constitutional issue. The Constitution prohibits what the case law calls “viewpoint discrimination.” This means that the government cannot silence one side of a debate while allowing speakers who favor an opposing viewpoint. Thus, to the extent that personal display of American or Mexican flags now symbolizes opposing views on the current national debate about immigration issues, the Colorado statute cannot constitutionally protect the right of students to display the American flag while allowing a school to ban the display of a different flag.



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