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 Springs Jail Drops Postcard-Only Policy Following ACLU Lawsuit

Jail Drops Postcard-Only Policy Following ACLU Lawsuit
El Paso County Sheriff Agrees To Stop Suppressing Prisoners’ First Amendment Rights
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: December 20, 2010
Mark Silverstein, ACLU of Colorado Legal Director, (303) 777-5482 ext. 114
Rachel Myers, ACLU national, (646) 206-8643 or (212) 549-2666;

DENVER – The El Paso County Jail today dropped its policy of restricting prisoners’ outgoing mail to postcards. Faced with defending an unconstitutional policy before a judge at a hearing scheduled for Wednesday, county officials agreed to a preliminary injunction ending the postcard-only policy following a lawsuit by the American Civil Liberties Union and the ACLU of Colorado. Chief Judge Wiley Y. Daniel of the U.S. District Court in Denver signed the order today.

Just in time for the Christmas holiday, prisoners at El Paso County Jail – most of whom are awaiting trial and have not been convicted of any crime – will once again be permitted to send letters in sealed envelopes to their children, family members, friends and loved ones.

“Today we celebrate a victory not only for the First Amendment, but for hundreds of Colorado families,” said Mark Silverstein, ACLU of Colorado Legal Director. “The El Paso County Jail’s ‘postcard-only’ policy violated the rights of both prisoners and their correspondents. Incarcerated individuals will no longer be forced to avoid personal topics such as medical, financial or relationship issues simply because their words were in plain sight for anyone to read.”

Callie Gonzales, whose son Damian is currently in El Paso County Jail awaiting trial, looks forward to once again receiving letters from her eldest child. Ms. Gonzales, who used to receive three to four long letters a week from her son, says their correspondence has been significantly cut down under the "postcard-only" policy.

“Since the policy went into effect…our communications have been dramatically stifled," said Ms. Gonzalez in a recent court filing. "These postcards provide only a tiny fraction of the space he was once able to fill…It is impossible for Damian and I to remain as close we were when he was able to send letters…Damian no longer sends handmade cards or drawings to his…youngest siblings who cannot read, and for whom these drawings and cards were their most direct and loving form of communication with him.”

“It shouldn’t take a federal lawsuit to allow a prisoner to write a letter to his mother,” said David Fathi, Director of the ACLU’s National Prison Project. “The El Paso County Jail did the right thing by abandoning this unconstitutional practice; we hope that other jails with ‘postcard-only’ policies will do the same without waiting for litigation.”
In recent months a number of jails around the United States, including one other jail in Colorado, have adopted "postcard-only" policies for prisoner mail. Today's ruling is the first in a case challenging a jail "postcard-only" policy in which the prisoners were represented by counsel throughout the lawsuit.

“Beyond their clear constitutional violations, these policies are simply counter-productive,” said Rebecca Wallace, staff attorney with the ACLU of Colorado. “Letters clearly allow prisoners to maintain relationships with friends and family that will aid in their return to life after incarceration. If jail officials are serious about lowering recidivism and increasing public safety, they would do well to recognize that preserving prisoners’ rights to send letters actually protects us all.”

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