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  • 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.

ACLU Wins Dismissal of Hundreds of Panhandling Charges in Colorado Springs

11/2/2015

DENVER – The City of Colorado Springs informed the ACLU of Colorado by letter last Friday that it is dismissing charges, vacating outstanding fines and sentencing requirements, and voiding warrants in 375 active panhandling-related cases.

The announcement was a response to an ACLU letter from September 15th informing the City that the police department, city attorney’s office, and Municipal Court had been illegally enforcing the City’s panhandling laws against homeless and impoverished people who had not violated those laws.

ACLU of Colorado Legal Director Mark Silverstein issued the following statement:

“We appreciate the City Attorney’s prompt, thorough, and positive response to the ACLU’s reporting that homeless and impoverished individuals had been inappropriately cited, prosecuted, and sentenced for violating panhandling laws that they didn’t actually violate.

“The City’s two panhandling ordinances specifically exempt individuals who engage in passive solicitation—meaning that people who merely display a sign inviting charity do not violate the ordinances.  Nevertheless, an ACLU investigation found that all three major arms of the Colorado Springs municipal justice system – police, prosecutors, and judges – had routinely enforced the ordinances against people who engage in only passive solicitation. The City’s practice had resulted in poor people being fined and imprisoned – for as much as 90 days – under circumstances that could not be legally or morally justified.

“In addition to re-training police, the City has appropriately taken corrective action with regard to hundreds of pending cases by quashing warrants, dismissing prosecutions, and vacating pending fines and sentences of probation.”

Resources:

Read: Colorado Springs Targets Impoverished People through Unfair, Discriminatory, and Illegal Enforcement of Panhandling Laws

Read the City’s response letter from Oct. 30: http://static.aclu-co.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/09/Letter-from-Colorado-Springs-City-Attorney.pdf

Visit the ACLU of Colorado case page: https://aclu-co.org/court-cases/colorado-springs-unlawful-enforcement-of-panhandling-laws/

Visit the ACLU of Colorado Criminalization of Homelessness campaign page: https://aclu-co.org/category/campaign-issues/criminalization-of-homelessness-campaign-issues/

 



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