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. 

Catholic Hospital Illegally Interferes with Physician Judgment, Patient Care

November 13, 2013

DENVER – Mercy Regional Medical Center, a Catholic hospital in Durango, is violating state and federal law by prohibiting physicians from discussing the option of pregnancy termination even when continuing the pregnancy threatens a patient’s life, according to a complaint the ACLU sent today to the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment.

The ACLU’s letter asks the Colorado agency to investigate and intervene to stop the facility, which serves as the sole community hospital in the area, from enforcing its policy and inappropriately interfering with its physicians’ practice of medicine.

“When the medical standard of care would recommend termination, the hospital is inappropriately forcing staff physicians to choose between obeying their employer or following their professional medical and ethical obligations to their patients,” said Mark Silverstein, ACLU Legal Director. “Moreover, following the hospital’s directive deprives patients of the full information they need to make informed decisions about their medical care.”

The ACLU cited the case of Dr. Michael Demos, who has practiced cardiology for 36 years and has been working as a staff cardiologist at Mercy Regional since 2005. In early 2012, his initial medical assessment of an 8 week pregnant patient suggested the possibility of Marfan syndrome, a genetic disorder that can pose a 90% risk of death for pregnant women. In recommending a test to confirm or rule out the suspected condition, Dr. Demos also explained that the standard of care would be to recommend termination of the pregnancy if Marfan syndrome were confirmed. As it turned out, the test was negative, and the patient successfully carried the pregnancy to term.

More than a year later, the patient complained, thinking in error that hospital staff had recommended abortion. The hospital’s Chief Medical Officer, John Boyd, M.D., responded with a letter stating that pursuant to the Catholic Ethical and Religious Directives, hospital medical providers “should not recommend abortion—even to patients who may have serious illnesses.” Dr. Boyd also met with Dr. Demos and instructed him that he is not to even discuss with a Mercy Regional patient the possibility of terminating a pregnancy, no matter what the circumstances.

A Colorado statute explicitly prohibits hospitals from limiting or otherwise exercising control over a physician’s independent professional judgment concerning the practice of medicine or diagnosis or treatment. Additionally, federal regulations require hospitals that participate in Medicare and Medicaid to ensure that patients receive sufficient information to make informed decisions about their treatment options.

“By prohibiting physicians from informing patients of all alternative treatment options, Mercy Regional’s policy violates state and federal law and poses a potential threat to the health, safety, and even the lives of Mercy Regional patients,” Silverstein said.

The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment sets and enforces standards for hospital operation. The ACLU has requested a response to its complaint by November 27.

For more information, visit the case page:

For the ACLU’s letter to the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment:


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