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.
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.
- 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.
ACLU’s Lawsuit Against Teller County Sheriff’s ICE Operations Moves to Appeals
May 26, 2020 DENVER – ACLU of Colorado has appealed a ruling of the Teller County District Court dismissing a taxpayer lawsuit seeking to stop Teller County Sheriff Jason Mikesell from enforcing federal civil immigration law. The lawsuit, filed last summer on behalf of six Teller County residents and taxpayers, asserts that Sheriff Mikesell exceeds his authority and violates Colorado law by participating in what is known as a 287(g) agreement with the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.... | Read More
ACLU Sues Colorado Springs Police, Charges Racial Profiling and Biased Policing
May 15, 2020 DENVER - In a lawsuit filed in federal court today, ACLU of Colorado charged that three Colorado Springs police officers, with their employer’s blessing, engaged in racial profiling and biased policing when they targeted Corey Barnes, a Black resident of the Springs, and detained him without cause, handcuffed him without justification and searched him illegally. “The color of a person’s skin does not provide reasonable suspicion of criminal activity,” said ACLU of Colorado.... | Read More
Federal Judge Orders Weld County Jail to Protect Medically Vulnerable People From COVID-19
May 11, 2020 DENVER – Today, a federal judge issued a 39-page ruling holding that the U.S. Constitution requires that Weld County Sheriff Steve Reams provide special protections to medically vulnerable people incarcerated in the Weld County Jail. Judge Phillip A. Brimmer’s order was issued after a full-day evidentiary hearing on April 30 in a class action lawsuit filed by a team of ACLU and civil right attorneys seeking an order to compel Sheriff Reams to comply with public health guidelines.... | Read More
Governor Called on to Stop COVID-19 From Becoming a Death Sentence for People in Prisons
May 8, 2020 DENVER – As COVID-19 outbreaks continue to climb in Colorado prisons, several organizations called on Governor Polis today to assert his executive authority and clemency powers to protect the most vulnerable people in prisons before it’s too late. In a letter sent to the Governor , the organizations cited new data proving that his actions to date are insufficient to protect the lives of elderly and medically compromised people in prisons, correctional staff and the community at.... | Read More
Column: How COVID-19 underscores the consequences of mass incarceration
April 20, 2020 By Pete Lee and Kimberly Cullen This column originally appeared in The Gazette. The Gazette Editorial Board got it wrong when they called for an end at efforts to bring down our jail and prison populations in order to reduce the spread of COVID-19. Public health officials universally agree that jails and prisons are breeding grounds for infections. According to Dr. Carlos Franco Paredes, MD, MPH from the Anschutz Medical Campus at the University of Colorado, in a letter.... | Read More
ACLU Statement on the Weld County Jail COVID-19 Outbreak and Response
April 14, 2020 After considerable public pressure, including ACLU’s highly-publicized lawsuit, the Weld County Sheriff has finally taken substantial steps toward compliance with CDC guidance, and the jail population is now decreasing. But serious damage is already done and at least one man is dead. In a development that jail authorities have so far shielded from public knowledge, 78 year old Charles Peterson died from COVID-19 on April 1, only two days after he was released from the Weld.... | Read More