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  • James Fisher spoke at the ACLU of Colorado Bill of Rights Dinner about how he and the ACLU are working together to stop the criminalization of poverty for the thousands of Coloradans who are trapped in debtors’ prisons.

  • Our membership has quadrupled in the last six months, making it possible to do more than ever to protect civil rights and civil liberties in Colorado. Thank you to all our new members, supporters, and donors, and the ones who’ve been with us for years.

  • Leisel Kemp, whose brother Jason was killed by CSP after they entered his home without a warrant, spoke at the 2013 Bill of Rights Dinner about the ACLU’s legal advocacy on behalf of her family.

  • Out of Sight, Out of Mind is an original short film from the ACLU of Colorado about a man who has spent 17 years in solitary confinement and now suffers from debilitating mental illness.

Category Archives: End Debtors’ Prisons

10.5.17

ACLU Report Highlights Abusive and Unconstitutional Practices in Colorado City Courts

DENVER – Colorado’s more than 200 municipal courts operate without meaningful accountability or oversight, and one court in particular — the Alamosa Municipal Court— systematically violates the constitutional rights of its mainly impoverished criminal defendants, according to a report released today by the ACLU of Colorado. Justice Derailed: A case study of abusive and unconstitutional practices in Colorado city courts is based on a multi-year ACLU investigation which revealed that, despite.... | Read More

1.23.17

Debtors’ Prison Settlement: Aurora Cancels Debt, Withdraws Warrants, and Repays James Fisher for Excessive Payments to Municipal Court

1\23\17 DENVER – The City of Aurora has agreed to cancel hundreds of dollars of debt and reimburse nearly $800 in overpayments that James Fisher made to the Aurora Municipal Court while he attempted to resolve rapidly-ballooning fees that he could not afford to pay, according to a settlement announced today by the ACLU of Colorado. "James Fisher was trapped in a cycle of debt that is all too familiar to thousands of low-income Coloradans ticketed for minor ordinance violations.  He made.... | Read More

5.5.16

Colorado Springs Agrees to $100K Settlement to Compensate Victims of Debtors’ Prison Practices

5/5/2016 DENVER – The City of Colorado Springs has agreed, as part of a $103,000 settlement with the ACLU of Colorado, to stop converting impoverished defendants’ fines into jail time, to stop sentencing defendants to jail for non-jailable offenses, and to compensate dozens of individuals whose court fines were illegally converted to jail time when they could not afford to pay. “Until last fall, the Colorado Springs Municipal Court was regularly sentencing poor and homeless defendants.... | Read More

8.26.15

Wheat Ridge Jailed Homeless Man in Violation of 2014 Law Banning Debtors’ Prisons

8/26/2015 DENVER – The Wheat Ridge Municipal Court violated a recently-enacted Colorado law banning debtor’s prison practices by sentencing a homeless man to jail because he could not pay a fine, according to a filing this morning by the American Civil Liberties Union of Colorado. Wilburn Taylor was cited for panhandling when a Wheat Ridge police officer found him with a blank cardboard and a pen, intending to make a sign requesting charity from passing motorists.   Taylor appeared before.... | Read More

4.23.14

Colorado Legislature Approves Ban on Debtors’ Prisons

DENVER -The Colorado Senate today overwhelmingly passed a ban on the practice of jailing people for being too poor to pay fines.   The legislation, which was unanimously approved by the House earlier this month, follows an in-depth investigation by the ACLU of Colorado that found that many Colorado cities and some county courts order the arrest and imprisonment of poor persons who miss payments of fines and court fees without a process to determine whether a person has the ability to pay, as the.... | Read More

3.19.14

Statement of the ACLU of Colorado Public Policy Director Denise Maes on “social misbehavior” ordinances approved last night by the Boulder City Council

BOULDER - “The ACLU of Colorado is disappointed that the City of Boulder has decided to add its name to the long and growing list of municipalities around the state that have responded to poverty on their streets and in their public spaces by increasing surveillance, adding new criminal penalties, and giving more tools to police and municipal judges to push homeless and poor people out of their communities. “Two years ago, in a letter supporting the Boulder City Council’s decision to eliminate.... | Read More

2.25.14

Prepared Testimony of ACLU Public Policy Director Denise Maes on HB 1061 – Eliminate Prison for Inability to Pay Fines

Bill to be considered February 25 by the House Judiciary Committee at 1:30 pm MT “Debtors' prison sounds like an archaic term - some long abandoned concept from the pages of a Charles Dickens novel. Unfortunately, their use is alive and well in Colorado and you don't have to travel very far beyond the Capitol to see it. “The U.S. Constitution and the Colorado Constitution prohibit debtors' prisons. The law requires that, before jailing anyone for unpaid fines, courts must determine whether.... | Read More

12.16.13

CO Cities Illegally Jail Poor People for Failure to Pay Fines

The American Civil Liberties Union of Colorado accused three Front Range cities this morning of jailing people for failing to pay court-ordered fines that they are too poor to pay. Relying on state and federal court decisions, the ACLU sent letters to the cities demanding a prompt halt to the practice. The ACLU conducted an in-depth investigation into the municipal courts of Westminster, Wheat Ridge, and Northglenn, which routinely issue “pay or serve” warrants without any consideration for.... | Read More





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