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  • 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.

Colorado Legislature Approves Ban on Debtors’ Prisons

DENVER -The Colorado Senate today overwhelmingly passed a ban on the practice of jailing people for being too poor to pay fines.   The legislation, which was unanimously approved by the House earlier this month, follows an in-depth investigation by the ACLU of Colorado that found that many Colorado cities and some county courts order the arrest and imprisonment of poor persons who miss payments of fines and court fees without a process to determine whether a person has the ability to pay, as the U.S. Supreme Court has required.

Statement of ACLU of Colorado Public Policy Director Denise Maes

“The ACLU of Colorado commends the state legislature, especially Representative Joe Salazar and Senator Lucia Guzman, for putting an end to the unconstitutional, inefficient, and inhumane practice of jailing people who are too poor to pay fines.

“Colorado’s lawmakers have overwhelmingly agreed that our judicial system, which prides itself on equal justice for all, cannot maintain a structure in which people with means pay their fines and move on with their lives, while the poor go to jail.

“There is also vast bipartisan agreement among legislators that jailing the poor for unpaid fines is fiscally unwise.  Throwing a person in jail because they owe a debt to the court not only means that the court will never collect that debt, it also costs the taxpayer significant money to arrest and imprison a person who does not deserve to be there.

“We look forward to the Governor’s approval of this legislation and its immediate implementation by all courts around the state.”

Learn more about the ACLU of Colorado’s campaign to end debtors’ prisons: https://aclu-co.org/campaigns/end-debtors-prisons/



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