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  • 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: acluco.org/redemption. 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 https://action.aclu.org/give/support-aclu-colorado

  • 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 Urges Governor Hickenlooper to Sign Civil Asset Forfeiture Reform

DENVER – In a letter from Public Policy Director Denise Maes, the ACLU of Colorado strongly urged Governor Hickenlooper to sign HB 17-1313, a bill passed by more than three-fourths of the Colorado legislature to rein in civil asset forfeiture and ensure that property seizures in Colorado abide by due process protections in Colorado law.

“Civil asset forfeiture reform passed the legislature by a combined vote of 81 to 19. It was supported by Republicans, Democrats, libertarians, progressives and just about everyone in between,” said Maes.  “Coloradans want and deserve stronger protections when property is taken by police, and Governor Hickenlooper should not unilaterally stand in the way of bipartisan reform.”

Civil asset forfeiture is a controversial practice in which law enforcement can seize – and then keep or sell – any property, including cash, vehicles, and even homes, that they allege is involved in a crime.

In 2002, the Colorado legislature strengthened Colorado’s civil forfeiture law, but police departments have increasingly avoided the requirements of that law by teaming up with federal agencies and seizing property under much less stringent federal law.  In 2014 alone, $13.5 million in assets were seized in Colorado under federal law.  HB 17-1313 closes that loophole by providing a clear incentive for property with a net worth of $50,000 or less to be seized under state law, not federal law.

“Opponents argue that HB 1313 will make crime fighting more difficult because if there are less forfeiture actions under federal law, local law enforcement agencies will get less money and, therefore, not be able to fight crime. This position is untenable and frankly, I’m surprised this argument is asserted with such vigor,” Maes wrote in the ACLU letter, which was sent by email to Governor Hickenlooper yesterday evening.

“Forfeiture was originally presented as a way to cripple large-scale criminal enterprises by diverting their resources. This argument by the opponents underscores the problem with forfeiture in that many police departments use forfeiture to benefit their bottom lines, making seizures motivated by profit rather than crime-fighting.”

HB 17-1313 also increases transparency into police forfeiture activities.  Departments will be required to detail to the public when they use civil asset forfeiture and list what was taken and what ultimately happened to the property.  Law enforcement will also have to report if the person from whom the property was taken was ever charged with or convicted of a crime.

“We ask that you reject the arguments set forth by the opponents of HB 1313. Forfeiture actions in Colorado should abide by Colorado law,” Maes wrote. “This bill returns us to the Colorado way and it’s a way that better protects the due process rights of Coloradans.”

Resources:

Read the ACLU of Colorado letter:

https://aclu-co.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/06/ACLULetterCivilAsset6517.pdf



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