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.

The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness

A civil rights advocate and former ACLU litigator, Professor Alexander, in her book, The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness, makes a case that a new legal caste system is dangerously alive in America. In the “age of colorblindness” a felon is placed in a lifelong caste system with penalties and restrictions much like the Jim Crow system of old. Even more importantly, she challenges “we the people” to be concerned and committed in responding to the destructive realities of the “war on drugs” and the mass incarceration with a social movement. Professor Alexander and her message have struck a powerful chord throughout the nation.

Professor Alexander holds degrees from Vanderbilt University and the Stanford Law School. She was the recipient of the 2005 Soros Justice Fellowship and now holds a joint appointment at the Kirwan Institute for the Study of Race and Ethnicity and the Moritz College of Law at Ohio State University. Earlier she served as director of the Racial Justice Project at the ACLU of Northern California, and directed the Civil Rights Clinics at Stanford Law School, where she was an associate professor. She is a former law clerk for Justice Harry Blackmun on the U.S. Supreme Court, and has appeared as a commentator on CNN, MSNBC, NPR, and PBS.

The following is a schedule of events in Denver. These events are free and open to the public.

Tuesday, February 22  – 4-6pm – Professor Michelle Alexander presents Mass Incarceration: A Challenge to the Profession of Law. A Q&A and book signing will follow at the University of Denver, Sturm College of Law Forum, 2255 E. Evans, Denver.

Wednesday, February 2311-1:30pBrown Bag Lunch and Conversation with Professor Alexander – Words of Wisdom, Actions of Hope: A Challenge to Communities of Faith – Iliff School of Theology – Great Hall, 2201 S. University Blvd., Denver. Space is limited so please RSVP to 303-765-3194.

Wednesday, February 237-9pmPublic ForumPark Hill United Methodist Church, 5209 Montview Avenue (near the corner of Montview & Glencoe), Denver. Professor Alexander will present: A Challenge to the Denver Community. Dr. Rachel Harding will moderate a panel discussion and open a community response period. Panelists include Michelle Alexander, Christie Donner, Executive Director of CCJRC and Francisco Gallardo of GRASP (Gang Rescue and Support Project).

For more information or to RSVP for any of the events, please call 303-765-3194 or

A Michelle Alexander video link:

Return to Events