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.
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.
- 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.
Category Archives: Criminal Justice
ACLU Report Finds Colorado Jail Depopulation Policies are Smart, Safe and Fiscally Responsible, Many Colorado Sheriffs Agree
DENVER – A new ACLU of Colorado report “COVID-19 Jail Depopulation in Colorado: An Unexpected Path Forward” found that jail depopulation in Colorado has been smart, safe, and thoughtful, with a clear focus on reserving jail beds for people who pose a threat to others. This report uses original data and research to assess the impact of depopulation policies implemented in response to the COVID-19 public health crisis and calls on legislators to memorialize these policies into law in 2021.... | Read More
When Reform is Not Enough: Why we must reimagine safety
She was just sleeping in her bed, I think to myself. Even when we are resting . . . we are not safe. This past Wednesday, the announcement that the Louisville, KY police officers who shot and killed Breonna Taylor would not be charged for her death left a numb feeling in my stomach. News like this always hits hard, but gone are the days of expressed fear, disappointment or even rage. Nothing is more painful than the realization that the U.S. criminal legal system, a system heralded by.... | Read More
ACLU of Colorado Statement on Aurora Protester Arrests
DENVER – The following is a statement from ACLU of Colorado Interim Executive Director, Stephen Meswarb. “Yesterday, prosecutors issued a more than 30-page indictment against activists protesting the killing of Elijah McClain and systemic racism by the Aurora Police Department. It has been more than a year since Aurora police officers killed Elijah McClain, and prosecutors have yet to issue an indictment against the officers who took his life. This is not justice. Yesterday's decision by.... | Read More
Now is The Time for Police Accountability
June 2, 2020 DENVER – The ACLU of Colorado has been monitoring the protests happening in Denver as events have unfolded. The following statement can be attributed to Stephen Meswarb, Interim Executive Director at ACLU of Colorado: “The protests happening all over the country are an outpouring of rage and grief at the endless, relentless examples of unarmed Black people being brutalized and murdered at the hands of police. George Floyd and Breonna Taylor are just the latest deaths. Here in Colorado.... | Read More
Advocates to Governor Polis: Failure to Renew Prison Executive Order Will Cause Needless Suffering and Death
May 27, 2020 DENVER — Today, several criminal justice organizations slammed Governor Polis’ decision to not renew parts of his Executive Order, which granted the Colorado Department of Corrections broad authority to safely release thousands of people from prisons in an effort to slow the spread of COVID-19 inside facilities and ultimately save lives. The Governor’s decision to halt the order comes on the heels of an April analysis provided to CDOC that predicted COVID-19 would infect more.... | Read More
ACLU’s Lawsuit Against Teller County Sheriff’s ICE Operations Moves to Appeals
May 26, 2020 DENVER – ACLU of Colorado has appealed a ruling of the Teller County District Court dismissing a taxpayer lawsuit seeking to stop Teller County Sheriff Jason Mikesell from enforcing federal civil immigration law. The lawsuit, filed last summer on behalf of six Teller County residents and taxpayers, asserts that Sheriff Mikesell exceeds his authority and violates Colorado law by participating in what is known as a 287(g) agreement with the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.... | Read More
ACLU Sues Colorado Springs Police, Charges Racial Profiling and Biased Policing
May 15, 2020 DENVER - In a lawsuit filed in federal court today, ACLU of Colorado charged that three Colorado Springs police officers, with their employer’s blessing, engaged in racial profiling and biased policing when they targeted Corey Barnes, a Black resident of the Springs, and detained him without cause, handcuffed him without justification and searched him illegally. “The color of a person’s skin does not provide reasonable suspicion of criminal activity,” said ACLU of Colorado.... | Read More
Federal Judge Orders Weld County Jail to Protect Medically Vulnerable People From COVID-19
May 11, 2020 DENVER – Today, a federal judge issued a 39-page ruling holding that the U.S. Constitution requires that Weld County Sheriff Steve Reams provide special protections to medically vulnerable people incarcerated in the Weld County Jail. Judge Phillip A. Brimmer’s order was issued after a full-day evidentiary hearing on April 30 in a class action lawsuit filed by a team of ACLU and civil right attorneys seeking an order to compel Sheriff Reams to comply with public health guidelines.... | Read More
Governor Called on to Stop COVID-19 From Becoming a Death Sentence for People in Prisons
May 8, 2020 DENVER – As COVID-19 outbreaks continue to climb in Colorado prisons, several organizations called on Governor Polis today to assert his executive authority and clemency powers to protect the most vulnerable people in prisons before it’s too late. In a letter sent to the Governor , the organizations cited new data proving that his actions to date are insufficient to protect the lives of elderly and medically compromised people in prisons, correctional staff and the community at.... | Read More
Column: How COVID-19 underscores the consequences of mass incarceration
April 20, 2020 By Pete Lee and Kimberly Cullen This column originally appeared in The Gazette. The Gazette Editorial Board got it wrong when they called for an end at efforts to bring down our jail and prison populations in order to reduce the spread of COVID-19. Public health officials universally agree that jails and prisons are breeding grounds for infections. According to Dr. Carlos Franco Paredes, MD, MPH from the Anschutz Medical Campus at the University of Colorado, in a letter.... | Read More
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