Colorado Rights Blog


  • 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.

  • One year ago, thousands of Coloradans marched in a historic display of resistance. At the ACLU of Colorado we carried that spirit throughout the year, fighting on many fronts for civil liberties. We won’t stop now.

  • By canceling DACA, Trump has put 800,000 young people at risk of losing their jobs and being deported from the only country they know as home. Passing the bipartisan Dream Act would protect them. We asked four Dreamers why the Dream Act is important to them and their future.



Experts are sounding the alarm of the public health threat that prisons and jails pose during this pandemic. There is a heightened risk of infection for people who are involved in the criminal legal system – people living in it, people working in it, and the communities they return home to. It is not a question of  if  the COVID-19 virus will take hold in Colorado’s prisons and jails; it’s a matter of when. We need everyone’s help to save lives.


March 17, 2020 – Letter to the Governor
ACLU of Colorado and eight  criminal justice and indigent defense organizations  sent a letter to Governor Polis and Chief Justice Coats, among others, urging immediate action to address the heightened risk of COVID-19 spreading to incarcerated individuals, correctional staff and, ultimately, the public.

Read the full letter sent to Governor Polis and other state officials

March 19, 2020 – Letter to Colorado Juvenile Justice Officials
ACLU of Colorado and eleven organizations sent a letter to Colorado juvenile justice officials outlining immediate actions to take to protect incarcerated children. 

Read the letter sent to Colorado juvenile justice officials

March 22, 2020 – Letter from an Infectious Disease Expert
Dr. Carlos Franco-Paredes, an infectious disease expert at the University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus, sent a letter to policymakers, judicial officers, sheriffs, wardens and parole boards, stating his concerns about the spread of COVID-19 in jails and prisons.

“The conditions in these facilities do not allow for appropriate infection control protocols and will make the current COVID-19 pandemic worse. Incarcerated populations have higher rates of underlying illness and, by extension, will have a higher case fatality rate.”

Read Dr. Franco-Paredes’ letter to policymakers and criminal legal system officials

March 24, 2020 – Governor Polis’ Guidance to Law Enforcement
Governor Polis issued guidance to Colorado counties, municipalities, law enforcement agencies and detentions centers, emphasizing the need to incarcerate fewer people in the wake of the COVID-19 public health crisis.

Read Governor Polis’ Guidance to Counties, Municipalities, Law Enforcement Agencies, and Detention Centers

March 25, 2020 – Our Statement on the Governor’s Guidance
ACLU of Colorado released a statement commending Governor Polis for putting science and public health above politics by urging localities to take immediate action to safely and substantially reduce the jail population. We called upon the Chief Justice to ensure that every judge responds with equal haste to lower jail populations across the state. 

Read the ACLU of Colorado Statement on Gov. Polis’ Guidance to Local Law Enforcement

March 25, 2020 – Governor Polis Issues an Executive Order
The Governor issued and Executive Order to aid in lowering the prisoner population in state prisons and community corrections. Polis’ action suspended state laws to increase the authority of the Executive Director of the Department of Corrections to release certain incarcerated people.

Read Governor Polis’ Executive Order 

March 26, 2020 – Letter to Colorado Sheriffs
ACLU of Colorado sent a letter to all Colorado sheriffs to collectively help stop the spread of COVID-19 by safely and swiftly reducing the jail population.

Read the ACLU of Colorado letter to sheriffs

April 3, 2020 – Coalition Files Lawsuit

The Office of the Colorado State Public Defender, Colorado Criminal Defense Bar and the Office of Alternate Defense Counsel filed two emergency petitions today asking the Colorado Supreme Court to take immediate action to limit the spread of COVID-19 in Colorado jails. The ACLU of Colorado, Colorado Criminal Justice Reform Coalition, Disability Law Colorado, Colorado Lawyers Committee and the Lawyers Civil Rights Coalition joined the petition as parties in interest.

Read the petition


We must immediately reduce the numbers of people in immigration detention, starting by releasing the most vulnerable to serious illness or death. These detention centers are often crowded and lack basic sanitation supplies, with no way to practice social distancing and mitigate the spread of COVID-19. Public health experts tell us that, once an outbreak occurs in detention, it will spread quickly and devastatingly. 

Add your name to strengthen our demand.

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