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. 

ACLU’s Lawsuit Against Teller County Sheriff’s ICE Operations Moves to Appeals

May 26, 2020

DENVER – ACLU of Colorado has appealed a ruling of the Teller County District Court dismissing a taxpayer lawsuit seeking to stop Teller County Sheriff Jason Mikesell from enforcing federal civil immigration law.

The lawsuit, filed last summer on behalf of six Teller County residents and taxpayers, asserts that Sheriff Mikesell exceeds his authority and violates Colorado law by participating in what is known as a 287(g) agreement with the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).

The 287(g) agreement calls for three Teller County deputies to double as ICE agents and exercise immigration-enforcement powers typically reserved for federal officers. It is the only 287(g) agreement in Colorado.

The Teller County Sheriff’s Office (TCSO) has footed the bill for the program with taxpayer money, including paying for the three deputies to attend an ICE-sponsored four-week training course in South Carolina. ACLU’s clients are Teller County taxpayers who allege that Sheriff Mikesell is expending their tax dollars on a program that violates Colorado law.

ACLU contends that Colorado law enforcement officers violate the state Constitution if they make arrests or keep persons in custody on the ground that they are suspected of violating federal civil immigration law. A Colorado statute enacted in 2019 expressly forbids such detentions. Nevertheless, under the 287(g) program, Teller County deputies will carry out arrests and detentions prohibited by Colorado law.

In response to ACLU’s lawsuit, Sheriff Mikesell argued that he did not spend any taxpayer money on the 287(g) program. The district court accepted that argument over the ACLU’s objections and ruled that the plaintiffs lacked standing. The court did not reach the ACLU’s argument that the 287(g) program violates Colorado law.

“Under Colorado law, Sheriff Mikesell has no authority to enforce federal immigration law and the Colorado legislature has forbidden the Sheriff to carry out immigration arrests,” said ACLU of Colorado Legal Director Mark Silverstein. “By dismissing this case on grounds of standing, the district court inappropriately avoids grappling with an important issue of Colorado law: does Sheriff Mikesell have the authority to defy the Colorado Legislature and the Colorado Constitution? We believe our clients properly asserted taxpayer standing and we are confident the Court of Appeals will agree.”

ACLU’s appeal will be heard by the Colorado Court of Appeals. The legal team includes ACLU Cooperating Attorneys Stephen Masciocchi and Kiki Council of Holland & Hart LLP and Byeongsook Seo and Stephanie A. Kanan of Snell & Wilmer, LLP.


The ACLU of Colorado is the state’s oldest civil rights organization, protecting and defending the civil rights of all Coloradans through litigation, education and advocacy.



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