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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.

Douglas County School Board Votes to End Unconstitutional Voucher Program

DENVER – The Douglas County School Board voted Monday night to end the district’s controversial “Choice Scholarship” Program, which the Colorado Supreme Court ruled unconstitutional in June 2015. The ACLU of Colorado with other partners, including Americans United for Separation of Church and State and Taxpayers for Public Education, a Douglas County education advocacy group, challenged the voucher program in 2011, highlighting the Colorado Constitution’s “specific prohibition” on government funds going to schools that are controlled by churches or religious organizations.  The Colorado Supreme Court agreed with the plaintiffs and struck down the program.

ACLU of Colorado Legal Director Mark Silverstein issued the following statement:

“We applaud the Douglas County School Board for responding to the clear message that voters sent in the recent election and conclusively ending the unconstitutional and divisive private school voucher program.  The School District will no longer pursue a path that would weaken public schools by funneling taxpayer dollars to private, religious schools, in violation of our state constitution.

As the Colorado Supreme Court ruled in 2015, parents are free to send their children to private, religious schools if they wish, but our constitution guarantees that taxpayers are not forced to pay for it.

The so-called Choice Scholarship program, if allowed to stand, would have eviscerated core provisions of the religion and education clauses of the Colorado Constitution and given school districts around the state carte blanche to implement similar programs, with potentially devastating consequences for our state’s public school system.

The School District can now move on from this costly chapter and focus on outcomes that will benefit all kids, not just the ones who can afford expensive private schools. 

Resources:

ACLU, Americans United Applaud Supreme Court Decision Striking Down Voucher Program Funding Religious Schools



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