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 Seeks Compensation for Colorado Man Who Spent 52 Days in Jail Waiting to See a Judge


DENVER – The ACLU of Colorado filed a lawsuit this morning against the Pueblo and Teller County Sheriff’s Offices on behalf of Michael Bailey, who was held in jail for 52 days on a years-old misdemeanor warrant awaiting his first appearance before a judge.   

The lawsuit, which was filed this morning in federal district court, seeks compensatory and punitive damages.

On Sept. 8, 2015, the Teller County Sheriff’s Office arrested Mr. Bailey on a four-year-old misdemeanor warrant from Pueblo County.  Although Colorado law requires that newly arrested detainees be brought “without unreasonable delay” to the nearest county court judge, who could set bond,  the Teller County Sheriff’s Office refused to take Mr. Bailey to court.  Instead, it waited for the Pueblo County Sheriff’s Office to transport Mr. Bailey to Pueblo.  For more than six weeks, the Pueblo County Sheriff’s Office ignored multiple notices to transport Mr. Bailey. 

When Mr. Bailey finally appeared before the Pueblo County Court after 52 days in jail, he was immediately released on a personal recognizance bond, and all charges were dismissed soon afterward.       

“Both the Teller and Pueblo County sheriffs, through their indifference and incompetence, are responsible for forcing Michael Bailey to languish in jail for two months without any opportunity to post bond or see a judge,” said Mark Silverstein, ACLU of Colorado legal director. “Bailey was stuck in legal limbo as both sheriff departments violated his constitutional right to appear promptly before a judge who could advise him of his rights and allow him to be released on bond. 

As a result of his prolonged detention, Bailey lost his job and nearly two months of wages.

According to ACLU of Colorado staff attorney Rebecca Wallace, what happened to Mr. Bailey is indicative of a long-standing, statewide problem. 

“For years, the ACLU of Colorado has been receiving complaints of defendants languishing in jail on warrants from other counties for 10 days or more, with no opportunity to see a judge,” said Wallace.  “We have been investigating the cause of these delays and have determined that many county sheriffs across the state are not following court rules requiring them to bring their prisoners promptly before a judge for a first appearance.  This failure not only violates defendants’ constitutional rights, it also contributes to the problem of over-incarceration and jail overcrowding that plagues Colorado.”

“The real-life consequences of pretrial detention are broad and deep,” said ACLU cooperating attorney Darold Killmer. “That’s why we have due process protections built into the system to ensure that pretrial defendants, who are innocent in the eyes of the law, are not stuck in jail waiting for their day in court.  In this case, and far too many others across the state, those protections failed because they were not followed.”

Bailey is represented by Silverstein, Wallace and Killmer, as well as Michael Fairhurst of Killmer, Lane & Newman, LLP. 

Read the ACLU complaint:

Return to News