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 Lawmakers Score High Marks on 2017 ACLU of Colorado Legislative Scorecard

DENVER – Following one of the most productive legislative sessions in recent history for civil liberties, lawmakers from both parties received generally high marks on the ACLU of Colorado Legislative Scorecard, which was released this morning.

Fifty of Colorado’s 100 lawmakers scored a perfect 100% and 58 scored 80% or higher on the scorecard, which is based on votes on seven bills that were selected as the best representation of the civil liberties issues facing Colorado today.

Five bills supported by the ACLU of Colorado, ranging in topic from campus free speech to juvenile justice to civil asset forfeiture reform, all passed with the support of more than 70 legislators and are now law.

“Colorado lawmakers put aside partisan differences and came together to advance multiple policies that strengthen civil liberties in 2017, whether it was protecting young people and staff in juvenile corrections, reining in civil asset forfeiture, making birth control more accessible, or ensuring that college campuses are open to all opinions and viewpoints,” said ACLU of Colorado Policy Director Denise Maes.  “There are still areas to keep moving forward, particularly around criminal justice and homeless rights, and unfortunately, attacks against women, immigrants, and the LGBT community persist, but overall, 2017 was a highly-productive and cooperative session with a lot of progress to build on.”

Along with the five successful bills, the ACLU also scored a Senate vote on a bill to require ultrasounds and a waiting period for women seeking an abortion. The ACLU opposed the bill, and the Senate rejected it on a bipartisan 19-16 vote.

The scorecard also includes a House vote on HB 1230, an ACLU-supported bill to protect Colorado residents from unconstitutional or discriminatory policies from the federal government.  The bill passed the House, but was defeated in a Senate committee before it could be considered by the full chamber.

The ACLU of Colorado supported, opposed, or monitored more than 100 pieces of legislation during the 2017 session.  As a practice, the ACLU only scores bills that are voted on by all members of at least one chamber.  This prevented the scoring of several bills that the ACLU of Colorado supported, like the Right to Rest Act and repeal of the death penalty, that were defeated on committee votes.

The bills included in the 2017 ACLU of Colorado Scorecard are:

HB 1162 – Outstanding Judgments and Driver’s Licenses.  This bill decriminalizes the offense of “Driving Under Revocation” when a person’s driving license was canceled because they could not pay a ticket, so that jail time is no longer a penalty.  HB 1162 passed 79-21 and was signed on May 18.

HB 1186 – Health Coverage Prescription Contraceptives Supply. This bill gives women access to a longer supply of birth control by requiring insurers to cover a 12-month supply of prescription contraceptives.  HB 1186 passed 72-25 and was signed on June 5.

HB 1313 – Civil Forfeiture Reform. This bill mandates greater transparency and accountability in civil asset forfeiture, by requiring reporting of all actions that result in seizures and limiting the use of federal seizure law to property valued over $50,000. HB 1313 passed 81-19 and was signed on June 9.

HB 1329 – Reform Division of Youth Corrections. This bill refocuses the mission of the Division of Youth Corrections as rehabilitative, renaming it the Division of Youth Services. The bill also requires that the Division retain an outside consultant to evaluate all Division facilities and, together with the Division, develop a pilot program that relies on non-punitive approaches to caring for kids. HB 1329 passed 86-14 and was signed on June 6.

SB 062 – Student Free Speech Public Higher Education Campuses. This bill protects free speech on college campuses, by prohibiting public institutions of higher education from limiting or restricting lawful student expression in a student forum. SB 062 passed 99-0 and was signed on April 4.

SB 284 – A Woman’s Right to Accurate Health Care Information (Senate only). This bill would have mandated ultrasounds and a waiting period for women seeking an abortion. SB 284 was voted down 19-16 by the Senate.

HB 1230 – Protect Colorado Residents from Federal Government Overreach (House only). This bill intended to protect the rights of all Coloradans by ensuring that our state is not forced to participate in any federal government overreach, like religious registries, internment camps, or attempts to identify individuals by their race, religion, or nationality. HB 1230 passed the House, but was defeated by a 3 to 2 vote in the Senate Judiciary Committee.

View the 2017 ACLU of Colorado Legislative Scorecard:

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