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.

Lawsuit Over Lockers for the Homeless in Fort Collins Nears Resolution

July 18, 2019

Photo courtesy of The Denver Channel

FORT COLLINS – A lawsuit filed against the City of Fort Collins by the ACLU of Colorado on behalf of the Fort Collins Mennonite Fellowship is close to resolution, with the parties’ attorneys having agreed on a set of conditions that will allow the Fellowship to provide outdoor storage lockers to individuals experiencing homelessness. The proposed settlement requires approval by the Fort Collins City Council, which is expected to consider the measure in August. 

“Our faith speaks more about the need to take care of the poor than any other moral issue,” said Steve Ramer, Pastor of the Fellowship. “I’m happy we’re close to finally settling this issue and will soon be able to offer our neighbors a place to store what little they have. These lockers may not solve homelessness, but they’re a piece of the puzzle and an extension of our faith through good works.”

In 2018, the Fellowship’s plan to install up to 20 lockers and make them available to individuals experiencing homelessness sparked a neighborhood controversy and prompted City staff to require the Fellowship to seek approval from the Planning and Zoning Board. That Board conditionally approved the program, but neighbors appealed to the City Council. At a hearing last fall, the Council denied the neighbors’ appeal but imposed additional conditions on the operation of the locker program, including onsite supervision by a Fellowship representative.  Ramer said it was impossible for the small congregation to comply with the City’s conditions. As a result, the locker program ended its brief operation and the ACLU filed a federal court challenge to the conditions imposed by the City Council.

“Our lawsuit argued that the City was unjustifiably infringing on the Mennonite Fellowship’s religious practice,” said Mark Silverstein, ACLU of Colorado Legal Director. “We are pleased that the City’s attorneys were willing to negotiate a compromise that will allow the locker program to function.”

The parties’ negotiation provides for security cameras, expands the ability of participants to access the lockers and no longer requires a Fellowship representative to be present at all times, as long as one is available by telephone.   

In addition to Silverstein and Staff Attorney Arash Jahanian, the ACLU legal team includes ACLU cooperating attorneys Brian J. Connolly, Thomas Macdonald, David A. Brewster and Andrew L.W. Peters of Otten, Johnson, Robinson, Neff & Ragonetti, P.C.


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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