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 Statement on the Weld County Jail COVID-19 Outbreak and Response

April 14, 2020

After considerable public pressure, including ACLU’s highly-publicized lawsuit, the Weld County Sheriff has finally taken substantial steps toward compliance with CDC guidance, and the jail population is now decreasing. But serious damage is already done and at least one man is dead.

In a development that jail authorities have so far shielded from public knowledge, 78 year old Charles Peterson died from COVID-19 on April 1, only two days after he was released from the Weld County Jail. He was desperately sick in the jail, and it is likely that Weld County Jail officials arranged to have him released due to that illness. Nonetheless, when Mr. Peterson’s housemate came to pick him up from the jail, no official told the housemate that Mr. Peterson was ill. Mr. Peterson barely made it to his home before an ambulance had to be called and took him to the hospital where he died.   

The jail is now suffering a major and predictable outbreak of COVID-19. This outbreak is a direct result of Sheriff Reams’ earlier resistance to the imperative need for reducing the jail population and his cavalier attitude toward the risks of widespread contagion, endangering people in custody, jail staff and the public. Despite the jail population finally decreasing, as of April 10, there were 14 COVID-19 cases among people incarcerated at the Weld County Jail, including six people who tested positive for the virus and eight presumptive positive cases. One person has been transferred to the hospital. Another person remains in the jail on a continuous oxygen machine and shares a cell with another sick patient. The jail doesn’t sanitize the cells, so even while sick, patients are forced to scrub floors and clean their own areas while fighting for their lives. Despite practices improving in the jail, medically vulnerable people, like the plaintiffs in this case, are still locked in small cells 22 hours a day, unable to practice physical distancing from one another, many have likely been exposed to COVID-19. The risk to medically vulnerable plaintiffs in these conditions is grave.  

We hope that the changes Sheriff Reams finally made to better align with public health guidelines are not too late and that, with the jail population decreasing, we will see this outbreak brought under control and no more lives lost.


The ACLU of Colorado is the state’s oldest civil rights organization, protecting and defending the civil rights of all Coloradans through litigation, education and advocacy.


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