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. 

Denver Joins Growing List of Counties No Longer Honoring Federal Immigration Detainers

DENVER – 4/30 – Earlier today, Denver County Sheriff Gary Wilson announced that Denver will join the growing number of Colorado counties that have decided over the last two days to stop honoring immigration detainers from federal authorities that request that a person be held in jail for up to six days after they would otherwise be released.

Yesterday, the ACLU of Colorado sent letters to every sheriff in the state calling into question the legal authority under Colorado state law to detain people at the behest of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).  Sheriffs from around the state have responded by announcing that they will no longer honor the holds.  As of today, Denver joins Boulder County, Mesa County, Routt County, Jefferson County, Grand County, and San Miguel County.

Statement of ACLU of Colorado Public Policy Director Mark Silverstein

“For several years, the ACLU of Colorado has urged Colorado law enforcement to stop holding persons in custody on the sole authority of an immigration detainer sent by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).  Today, we are happy to announce that several counties, including Denver, have decided over the last 48 hours to reject ICE requests to detain residents without criminal warrants or legal justification.

“The cascade of recent decisions by Colorado sheriffs reflects good judgment that getting involved in immigration enforcement undermines community trust in the police and makes everyone less safe.  Local law enforcement’s top concerns should be community trust and public safety.  Victims and witnesses of crimes should not fear calling the police, but that’s what happens when the community fears that contact with law enforcement can be the first step in a seamless transfer to jail and then to immigration proceedings.

“An ICE detainer is not a warrant; it is not approved by a judge.  It does not mean that there has been a finding about the person’s immigration status.   It does not even mean that ICE has probable cause to believe the person is deportable.  Indeed, ICE makes mistakes—it has regularly issued detainers against citizens or legal residents and denied liberty to people who are not deportable.

“When ICE asks a sheriff to hold a prisoner for up to six extra days, the agency is essentially asking the sheriff to make a new arrest.   And Colorado law just does not provide authority to sheriffs to make that arrest.   Peace officers in Colorado have authority to deprive persons of liberty when there is probable cause to believe they have committed a crime.   Remaining in the country in violation of federal immigration laws is not a crime.   Colorado law does not provide sheriffs any authority to deprive persons of liberty because the federal government suspects they may be subject to civil immigration enforcement proceedings.

We applaud Denver’s decision, as well as the growing number of Colorado sheriffs who are making the same decision.  We expect this rapidly developing trend to continue, and we encourage every county in the state to join in rejecting federal immigration detainers.”

Read the ACLU letter to Colorado Sheriffs here.

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