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. 

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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