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.

Bill to Reform Youth Corrections Heads to the Governor’s Desk


DENVER – The Colorado Legislature gave final approval last night to HB 1329, a bill to bring systematic change to the Division of Youth Corrections (DYC). HB 1329 will increase transparency within DYC and create a 2-year pilot program focused on treatment and rehabilitation of kids without the use of punitive measures, such as solitary confinement, mechanical restraints, and pain compliance. The Division of Youth Corrections will also be renamed the Division of Youth Services and the mission will be changed to reflect the Division’s core rehabilitative function.

ACLU of Colorado Public Policy Director Denise Maes issued the following statement:

“The ACLU of Colorado commends the legislators from both sides of the aisle who came together to support broad, systematic reform of the Division of Youth Corrections – soon to known as the Division of Youth Services. HB 1329 is a major stride forward on the path to ending the culture of violence that has plagued the Division and endangered kids and staff in youth facilities, as chronicled in the Bound and Broken report by the Colorado Child Safety Coalition.

“We especially want to recognize the efforts of the bill’s prime sponsors, Representatives Pete Lee and Lois Landgraf and Senators Daniel Kagan and Don Coram, whose determination and leadership were critical to HB 1329’s passage. Representative Lee, in particular, has been a tireless advocate for protecting the rights and safety of our state’s most vulnerable youth, and his work in the legislature has been inspiring and impactful.

“ACLU members and activists responded to this legislation like none other in our organization’s history.  Citizen lobbyists traveled from all over the state in March to speak directly to their legislators, and ACLU activists sent more than 15,000 emails in the final weeks of the session urging support for HB 1329.

“We hope and expect that Governor Hickenlooper will sign HB 1329 without delay. Then begins the important work of implementing these reforms in a way that is consistent with the Legislature’s vision that youth corrections becomes a safe, humane environment that equips young people to deal with trauma and develop the behavioral changes needed to successfully return and contribute to our communities.”


Fact Sheet on HB 1329:

Read the Colorado Safety Coalition’s Bound and Broken Report:

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