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. 

CDOC Takes Step Toward Getting Mentally Ill Prisoners Out of Solitary

December 12, 2013

In a memo provided to the ACLU of Colorado by the Colorado Department of Corrections, all wardens were instructed to no longer refer prisoners that have been designated to have a major mental illness to administrative segregation. Administrative segregation is long-term placement in solitary confinement, in which prisoners are denied all meaningful human contact and must remain alone in barren metal cells in excess of 23 hours per day.

Statement of ACLU Staff Attorney Rebecca Wallace
“The ACLU of Colorado commends the Colorado Department of Corrections for taking a momentous step toward ending the practice of managing seriously mentally ill prisoners with long-term solitary confinement.

“The ACLU of Colorado has campaigned for changes to CDOC’s use of solitary confinement, and particularly to end prolonged solitary confinement of seriously mentally ill prisoners, for several years.

“Barring seriously mentally ill prisoners from administrative segregation is an enormous step in the right direction, but it addresses only one of several demands the ACLU has made of CDOC on this issue. There is still much important work to be done.

“As an initial matter, we remain concerned that the definition of major mental illness adopted by CDOC is too narrow and that there are still prisoners in administrative segregation who are seriously mentally ill and should not be placed in prolonged solitary confinement.

“Second, as the ACLU of Colorado film Out of Sight, Out of Mind, about CDOC prisoner Sam Mandez showed, there are prisoners in CDOC’s mental health treatment program that are stuck in low levels of the program and still confined in solitary conditions. CDOC must ensure that all seriously mentally ill prisoners have a minimum of twenty hours out of cell time every week, including 10 hours of therapeutic activity.

“Third, CDOC’s mental health treatment programs must be fully staffed to provide adequate out of cell time and therapy.

“Finally, we have asked that CDOC adopt policies to require mental health involvement in disciplinary decisions related to seriously mentally ill prisoners.

“We are hopeful that Director Raemish and his executive team are and will remain real partners for change.”

CDOC memo –

Out of Sight, Out of Mind – The Story of Sam Mandez –

Read our report on mentally ill Colorado prisoners in solitary confinement.

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