Colorado Rights Blog


  • 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.

Effort to End the Death Penalty in Colorado Advances

January 28, 2020

Effort to End the Death Penalty in Colorado Advances

DENVER – Coloradans from across the state and sponsors on both sides of the aisle gathered to hear SB20-100 to Repeal The Death Penalty. After six hours of testimony, the bill passed out of the Senate Judiciary Committee with a 3-2 vote.

“Yesterday’s testimony from faith leaders, an exoneree from death row, District Attorneys, corrections officers and, most significantly, family members who lost loved ones to murder, all made the case that the death penalty is arbitrary, ineffective and does not deliver justice to family members,” said ACLU of Colorado Public Policy Director Denise Maes. “The people have spoken, and we thank the committee for hearing all voices.”

Sen. Julie Gonzales, Sen. Jack Tate, Rep. Jeni James Arndt and Rep. Adrienne Benavidez joined the long-time efforts of community organizers to seek the end of the death penalty in Colorado.

In reference to the months of community engagement that followed last years efforts, Sen. Gonzales said, “I did all of that listening in order to bring this bill with the same goal in mind, but with a more intentional approach — one that centered the people directly impacted by the policy. Along with my co-prime sponsor, it is our intention to treat each other with dignity and respect every step of the way throughout this process.”

During a press conference and testimony, a dozen victim family members spoke out against a system that causes additional trauma. Linda Burks-Brown, whose brother, Willie Frazier, was murdered in Denver, read a letter from 66 victim family members calling for an end to the death penalty. The letter stated, “As you consider whether to keep or end Colorado’s death penalty, we urge you to make the choice that best serves the interests of victims’ families. We hope you will conclude what we have: that the death penalty fails victims’ families.”

A recently released ACLU of Colorado report: Ending A Broken System: Colorado’s Expensive, Ineffective and Unjust Death Penalty, highlighted 22 stories of families whose loved ones were murdered. Ezra Aldern, whose story was featured in the report testified, “I am here on my own volition as a private citizen and I am against the death penalty. For far too long, the death penalty has been a legal punishment in Colorado. Not only should death penalty no longer be a partisan issue, it should not be an issue at all.”


Ending A Broken System: Colorado’s Expensive, Ineffective and Unjust Death Penalty:

For more information on the End Colorado’s Death Penalty Campaign go to:


The ACLU of Colorado is the state’s oldest civil rights organization, protecting and defending the civil rights of all Coloradans through litigation, education and advocacy.


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