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. 


Colorado Court Strikes Parental Notification for Abortion Act


August 17, 2000

Recognizing the critical need of young women facing a medical crisis to have immediate access to abortion, a U.S. District Court in Colorado today held unconstitutional a law that would have prevented pregnant teens from getting an abortion unless they notified a parent. The judge struck the law because it lacked an exception for situations in which an abortion is necessary to protect the teen's health.


The American Civil Liberties Union, which challenged the law along with Planned Parenthood on behalf of health-care providers and their minor patients, said today's decision makes clear that the state cannot enact laws that fail to protect the health, safety, and rights of young women.


The law in question, the Colorado Parental Notification Act, makes it a crime for a physician to perform an abortion for a minor unless the doctor notifies a parent and delays the abortion by at least 48 hours. The Act contains no health exception and only an extremely narrow life exception. And, unlike similar laws across the country, the Act does not provide teens who cannot tell a parent — because they will be abused, thrown out of the house, or otherwise harmed — with an alternative.


"The law would have prevented doctors from providing critical medical care even when doing so would put minors at risk of kidney failure, seizures, and coma," said Louise Melling, Associate Director of the ACLU's Reproductive Freedom Project. "We are gratified that the court recognized the danger this law posed for Colorado teens."


In its decision, the court held that the law squarely conflicted with 25 years of Supreme Court precedent requiring abortion regulations to contain an exception to preserve the health or life of the woman. The court also held that the failure of the law to include a health exception would indisputably "place some women at risk of serious health problems or even death."


"We are pleased with the ruling," said Elicia Gonzales, Senior Public Affairs Coordinator at Planned Parenthood of the Rocky Mountains. "At Planned Parenthood, we encourage all of our young patients to involve their parents. While most do, some cannot. Unfortunately, not every family is a model family. We are relieved that the young women of Colorado will still be able to access safe and confidential health care without being forced to involve a parent when doing so could put them in danger."


This is the second time this week that a court struck a parental notification law. On Tuesday, the New Jersey Supreme Court held New Jersey's Parental Notification Act unconstitutional, finding that it would neither foster family communication nor protect the rights and safety of young women in the state.


The case is Planned Parenthood v. Owens, No. 99-WM-60. Attorneys on the case were Louise Melling, Jennifer E. Dalven, Jody Yetzer, and Talcott Camp of the National ACLU Reproductive Freedom Project, and Mark Silverstein, Tim Atkeson, Keri Howe for the ACLU of Colorado, representing Boulder Abortion Clinic P.C. and Warren M. Hern, M.D., and Edward T. Ramey, Blain D. Myhre, and Stacey Stern Chapman along with Kevin C. Paul of Planned Parenthood, representing Planned Parenthood of the Rocky Mountains Services Corporation, Women's Choice of Boulder Valley, Peter A. Vargas, M.D., James A. McGregor, M.D., Michael D. Rudnick, M.D., and Aris M. Sophocles, M.D.

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