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.
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
ACLU and Denver Civil Rights Attorneys File Class Action Lawsuit in Federal Court Against Weld County Sheriff
The Lawsuit Seeks an Emergency Order to Protect High-risk People in Jail From COVID-19 April 8, 2020, DENVER – A team of ACLU and civil rights attorneys filed a class action lawsuit last night in federal court, seeking an emergency order to compel Weld County Sheriff Steve Reams to comply with COVID-19 public health guidelines – including physical distancing – for all high-risk people being held in the Weld County Jail. “We have written to Sheriff Reams; we have written to the Chief.... | Read More
Coalition Files Lawsuit Urging State Supreme Court to Protect Jails and Public from COVID-19
April 3, 2020 DENVER – The Office of the Colorado State Public Defender, Colorado Criminal Defense Bar and the Office of Alternate Defense Counsel filed two emergency petitions today asking the Colorado Supreme Court to take immediate action to limit the spread of COVID-19 in Colorado jails by issuing a directive that lower courts are to do their part to safely reduce the number of people who are incarcerated during this crisis. The petitions ask the Court to immediately issue guidance to safely.... | Read More
Join our At-Home Census Outreach Team!
Visit our Census 2020 homepage. [gravityform id="15" title="true" description="true"] Help us encourage Coloradans in Hard to Count communities (HTC) across the state to participate in the 2020 Census. In the past, Hard to Count communities such as those experiencing homelessness, immigrant communities, people of color, and LGBTQ+ folks have been severely undercounted resulting in a disproportionate distribution of federal funding that goes towards programs such as health.... | Read More