Colorado Rights Blog


  • Cedric Watkins is a father, uncle, entrepreneur-in-training, and a vital community pillar for many others. While behind bars, he has tirelessly devoted himself to serving his peers and his community. He developed gang disaffiliation programs for other incarcerated individuals and is currently involved with Defy Ventures. He sends letters and calls his daughter as much as he can.

    Cedric is currently in prison at Sterling Correctional Facility. He was convicted of aggravated robbery, burglary, kidnapping, theft and sentenced to 80 years; no one was seriously injured or killed. For comparison, a person convicted of second-degree murder in Colorado faces a maximum sentence of 48 years. Cedric has already served 20 years and has fully rehabilitated during that time.

    It’s time to bring Cedric home: Redemption is real. Clemency is compassion.

  • On November 21, 2016, 13 Aurora police officers responded to a simple noise complaint at Alberto Torres’s home. As happens all too often, Aurora police officers escalated this minor issue into a brutal affair. They beat Mr. Torres solely because he delayed exiting his garage to ask his wife to interpret for him. With that beating, the lives of Mr. Torres and every member of his family were changed and he has yet to recover. ACLU of Colorado fought to obtain justice for Mr. Torres, and Aurora has now paid him $285,000. But money is not justice, and the brutality of the Aurora Police Department against people of color has continued unabated.

    It doesn’t have to be this way.

    Imagine, if instead of 13 officers being dispatched to Mr. Torres’s home for a noise complaint, the City of Aurora sent a civilian-led response team to check on his welfare and ask that he and his friends lower their sound, resulting in a non-violent solution to a minor issue?

    ACLU Settles Case With Aurora After Police Brutalize and Unlawfully Arrest Alberto Torres

  • Hope is a discipline. It’s a commitment that together, we can create a more perfect union. We won’t rest until we fulfill the promise of equal rights for ALL people in the United States.

    Join us in our fight to fulfill this promise and move forward with hope by donating to the ACLU of Colorado. Your donation supports the ACLU’s strengths that make our work effective and collaborative.

    Donate now at

  • 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. 

Motion to Halt DougCo Voucher Plan Filed in Denver District Court

State Law Violations; Conflict with Sending Tax Dollars to Religious Schools Cited

July 6, 2011

UPDATE: On Monday, July 18, Judge Michael Martinez set a date of August 2 for a hearing on the request for a preliminary injunction to preserve the satus quo and prevent the Douglas County voucher plan from going into effect for the 2011-2012 school year.

Contact: Erik Maulbetsch, ACLU of Colorado,, 303.777.5482, ext. 100, or
Matt Douglas, Arnold & Porter,, 303.863.2315

Attorneys for the American Civil Liberties Union of Colorado, the American Civil Liberties Union, and Americans United for Separation of Church and State have filed a motion for preliminary injunction, asking the Denver District Court to stop state education officials from giving state taxpayer money to fund and implement the Douglas County School District’s voucher program, which would divert taxpayer money to primarily religious, private schools.

The motion, filed late Tuesday on behalf of a group of plaintiffs who represent Douglas County parents, other taxpayers and faith leaders, asks the court to immediately end the voucher program in order to protect plaintiffs’ rights under the Colorado Constitution’s religious liberties provisions, which bar the appropriation of public funds to religious schools. The motion also argues that the voucher program violates Colorado constitutional provisions and statutes that require educational funds to pay for public education and remain under government control. It additionally describes the district’s blatant attempt to sidestep state law by establishing a phantom charter school so that state money can be received for 500 students who will actually use the money to attend private, primarily religious schools.

“We have asked the court to stop the voucher program before it goes into effect and our plaintiffs suffer serious harm,” said ACLU Cooperating Counsel Matt Douglas, of Arnold & Porter LLP. “The Colorado constitution is clear that public funds shall not be spent on religious indoctrination, yet that is exactly what the Douglas County voucher program seeks to do.”

The motion for preliminary injunction asks the court to enjoin the voucher program based on findings that the program is likely to be found unconstitutional and otherwise unlawful, and to prevent defendants — the Colorado Department of Education, the Colorado Board of Education, the Douglas County School District, and others who have joined with them, from misappropriating public funds and infringing on the rights of students in Douglas County.

In the motion, attorneys for the plaintiffs ask the court to preserve the status quo until a ruling can be made on the legality of Douglas County’s voucher program.

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