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. 


March 1, 1999

The American Civil Liberties Union of Colorado (ACLU) filed suit today against the country’s largest private extradition company, TransCor America, on behalf of a female prisoner who alleges that she suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder as a result of a sexual assault perpetrated by a TransCor guard in March, 1998, during a drive from Texas to Colorado.

TransCor assigned an all-male crew for the extradition despite similar incidents, similar lawsuits, and a company policy that required the presence of at least one female guard.

The lawsuit, filed by ACLU cooperating attorney John Webb of Holme Roberts & Owen, joins two similar cases currently pending against TransCor in federal district court in Denver. All allege that female prisoners were victims of sexual assault while being transported by all-male crews. TransCor is the target of similar allegations in other states.

"It is time for TransCor to take full responsibility for the safety and treatment of prisoners that the government entrusts to its care," said Mark Silverstein, ACLU Legal Director. "No woman should ever have to endure what our client went through."

According to the lawsuit, the plaintiff is 43 years old, has been married to her husband for 19 years, and has four children. In 1997, after living for twenty years in Colorado and fifteen years in Fremont County, the couple moved to Texas. The following year, the plaintiff was arrested for the first time in her life, on an old warrant from Fremont County. She voluntarily waived extradition, and Fremont County hired TransCor. The sexual assault, along with threats of retaliation if she reported the abuse, occurred during the five-day trip to Colorado.

After the plaintiff arrived in Colorado, the staff at the Fremont County Jail recognized her obviously distraught condition and sought help for her. A therapist determined that she suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder, a common consequence of such sexual assaults.

During the van’s round-about trip to Colorado, the plaintiff spent the days shackled in the van and spent the nights in county jails along the route. According to the lawsuit, the plaintiff was not able to use the toilet at rest stops during the day because the male guards insisted on watching. One day the plaintiff was forced to wait over thirteen hours until they stopped for the night at a county jail.

The growth of private extradition companies parallels the increasing reliance on privately-owned prisons. TransCor was recently acquired by Corrections Corporation of America, one of the largest private prison companies in the country. Although private extradition companies cost less than the traditional escort by sworn law enforcement agents, they have been the consistent targets of complaints from prisoners and their advocates.

"The ACLU regularly receives complaints from prisoners about their treatment by private extradition companies," Silverstein said. "There is virtually no government regulation of the conditions prisoners live in while they are shackled all day long without sanitary facilities in these cramped transport vans, which routinely take extended round-about routes so they can pick up more prisoners and maximize profits. When it comes to regulations governing interstate transportation, circus animals and cattle receive more government protection than prisoners."

According to the ACLU, one prisoner shipped from Ohio to Colorado spent 20 days traveling through 20 states, including New York, Maryland, and South Dakota, before he finally arrived in Colorado. Prisoners endure these long trips without a change of clothing and with only sporadic access to showers. Instead of making more frequent rest stops, guards have told prisoners to urinate into a shared plastic milk jug. In addition, prisoners reportedly fear for their safety during transport, citing a lack of seat belts or safety harnesses, neglected maintenance of vehicles, and guards pushing to drive overly-long hours, resulting in reduced alertness and even falling asleep at the wheel. In 1997, six prisoners burned to death in Tennessee when a van operated by a different private extradition company caught fire after its drive shaft fell off and punctured the gas tank. The van had been driven 260,000 miles.

In addition to serving various Colorado cities and counties, TransCor has a contract with the Colorado Department of Corrections to transport parole violators and other inmates who must be returned to Colorado. California canceled a similar contract with a private extradition company in 1989, after a legislative committee held hearings about a barrage of similar allegations, including sexual assault of female prisoners.

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