Colorado Rights Blog


  • 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. 

  • 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.

    Read more about Ronald Johnson and other at-risk incarcerated people.

  • 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.

CDOC Takes Momentous Step Toward Providing Better Treatment to Prisoners with Serious Mental Illness

March 25, 2014

The Colorado Department of Corrections (CDOC) has released a new policy on the treatment of prisoners with serious mental illness that will go into effect on April 1, 2014.  The policy provides for increased out of cell time and individual therapeutic contacts for prisoners with serious mental illness and/or developmental disabilities housed in CDOC’s residential treatment programs (RTP).  The policy adopts a broadened definition of “serious mental illness” and mandates the following:

  1. Prisoners diagnosed with a “serious mental illness” are to be considered for placement in an RTP within 30 days of diagnosis.
  2. All RTP prisoners are to receive twenty hours of out-of-cell time every week, including ten hours of dedicated therapeutic activity.
  3. Many RTP prisoners are required to receive frequent one-on-one mental health contacts with a consistent mental health provider.

Statement of ACLU Staff Attorney Rebecca Wallace

“The ACLU of Colorado commends Colorado Department of Corrections Executive Director Rick Raemisch and his staff who have shown remarkable leadership on this issue.

“Adoption of this policy is a momentous step toward ensuring that prisoners with a serious mental illness are not held in solitary confinement and will receive meaningful out-of-cell mental health treatment.”

Read the new policy here:

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