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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.

AFTER ACLU LAWSUIT, COLORADO DOC AGREES TO RESTORE JEWISH PRISONER

October 13, 2005

The American Civil Liberties Union Foundation of Colorado (ACLU) announced today that the Colorado Department of Corrections (DOC) had agreed to resume providing kosher meals to Timothy Sheline, a Jewish prisoner whose kosher food diet was revoked for one year as punishment for allegedly violating a minor dining hall rule.

Two days ago, the ACLU filed suit on behalf of Sheline, asserting that the DOC unjustifiably revoked his kosher diet because a guard in the dining hall reported that Sheline was caught taking two packages of butter and two packages of salad dressing from his food tray and putting them in his pocket.

“DOC officials deserve praise for quickly taking action to restore Mr. Sheline’s ability to eat in the prison dining hall without violating his sincerely-held religious beliefs,” said Mark Silverstein, ACLU Legal Director. “We were ready to ask the Court for an emergency injunction this week if Mr. Sheline’s kosher meals were not restored right away. The DOC’s prompt action now makes this unnecessary.”

Restoring Mr. Sheline’s kosher meals resolves the most pressing issue in the lawsuit, Silverstein said, but it does not resolve the entire case. “The lawsuit also challenges the DOC regulation that authorizes DOC officials to revoke prisoners’ right to a religious diet for unjustifiable reasons and without due process,” Silverstein said. “Today’s action was a good first step, but problems with the DOC’s regulation remain unresolved.”

Since his kosher diet was revoked in April, the lawsuit states, Sheline has been struggling to survive on a severely-restricted diet of the few kosher foods he has been able to purchase at the prison canteen with his meager funds. As a result, he has lost over 30 pounds on a diet consisting almost entirely of peanut butter and crackers.

The ACLU lawsuit relies on the First Amendment right to the free exercise of religion and a federal statute enacted in 2000, the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act, which strengthens legal protections for prisoners’ religious activities. 



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