Colorado Rights Blog


  • 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.


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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