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. 

Boulder Jail Post-Card Only Challenge Clears Hurdle

A federal district court judge today granted class action certification to the ACLU of Colorado’s First Amendment lawsuit against the Boulder County Jail, moving forward the ACLU’s efforts to end unconstitutional post-card only prisoner mail policies.

The lawsuit, filed on behalf of jail detainees, challenges a policy implemented in March 2010 that restricts all outgoing prisoner correspondence at the Boulder County Jail to postcards supplied by the jail, except narrow categories deemed to be “legal” or “official” mail.

“Class certification was a critical and necessary step to preserving our opportunity to get an injunction banning the post card policy that is at issue in this case. We are very pleased with the ruling certifying this class,” said Mark Silverstein, ACLU Legal Director.
With class certification, Silverstein added, the class itself has standing to litigate the claims even if the individual claims of the named and unnamed plaintiffs become moot because of a detainee’s release or transfer.

In addition to certifying class status, Chief Judge Wiley Y. Daniel in his written decision also named Silverstein and David C. Fathi, director of the National Prison Project of the ACLU Foundation, as Class Counsel.

Chief Judge Daniel set April 21 as the date for a hearing on a motion for preliminary injunction in the case to compel the Boulder County Jail to immediately end its challenged postcard-only policy.

The ACLU lawsuit maintains that the policy violates the First Amendment rights of prisoners and their correspondents, including intimate partners, other family members, clergy and investigative journalists, among others.

“Writing letters to people outside of prison is critical for helping prisoners maintain their connection to their families and their communities and is also a key element of ensuring their successful reintegration upon release,” Fathi said. “Restricting the First Amendment freedoms of detainees is not only unwise but unconstitutional.”

The Boulder County Jail, located in Boulder, Colorado, has an average daily population of 400. It houses both convicted prisoners and detainees awaiting trial. The ACLU lawsuit was filed on behalf of five individual prisoners who represent a class of current and future prisoners subject to the post-card only policy.

The lawsuit names as defendants Boulder County Sheriff Joe Pelle, and Division Chief Larry R. Hank, jail administrator. It seeks a court ruling invalidating the post-card only policy.

Boulder County is now the only jail in Colorado with such a policy.

Rather than attempt to defend the post-card only practice before a judge, the El Paso County jail dropped a similar policy in December just after attorneys from the American Civil Liberties Union and the ACLU of Colorado filed suit.

“If jail officials are serious about lowering recidivism and increasing public safety,” Silverstein said, “they will realize that preserving a prisoner’s right to send letters actually protects us all.”

Court documents and additional information are available at

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