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. 


October 11, 2005

The American Civil Liberties Union Foundation of Colorado (ACLU) announced today that its attorneys had filed suit against the Colorado Department of Corrections (DOC) on behalf of Timothy Sheline, a Jewish prisoner whose kosher food diet was revoked for one year as punishment for allegedly violating a minor dining hall rule.

According to the lawsuit, the DOC has recognized that Mr. Sheline’s sincerely-held religious beliefs require that he maintain a kosher diet. The DOC was providing that diet until last spring, when Sheline was notified that his right to receive a kosher food tray in the prison dining hall had been revoked.

The lawsuit states that Sheline’s kosher diet was revoked because a guard in the dining hall reported that Sheline was caught taking two packages of butter and two packages of salad dressing from his food tray and putting them in his pocket.

Since his kosher diet was revoked in April, the lawsuit states, Sheline has been struggling to survive on a severely-restricted diet of the few kosher foods he is able to purchase at the prison canteen with his meager funds. As a result, he has lost over 30 pounds on a diet consisting almost entirely of peanut butter and crackers.

“The Constitution protects the right of prisoners to freely exercise and practice their religious beliefs,” said Mark Silverstein, ACLU Legal Director. “Congress recently strengthened the legal protections available to prisoners when it enacted the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act, (RLUIPA). That statute places a heavy burden of proof on the government to justify any restrictions on religious practice.”

“It took extensive litigation several years ago to force the DOC to provide kosher meals to Jewish prisoners whose religious practice requires them,” Silverstein continued. “Prisoners can now receive religious diets, but the DOC claims, unjustifiably, that it has the right to revoke those diets on the basis of alleged violations of minor dining hall rules. The DOC certainly has a right to enforce its dining hall rules and to sanction prisoners who violate them. But it cannot do so by infringing and burdening the right of prisoners to practice their religion.”

The DOC revoked Mr. Sheline’s entitlement to a kosher diet on the basis of Administrative Regulation 1550-06, which sets out procedures for granting and revoking religious diets. The ACLU contends that the diet-revocation provisions violate the right of prisoners to religious freedom and due process of law.

The lawsuit, Sheline v. Ortiz, was filed in United States District Court in Denver.  

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