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.
A Matter of Public Health: ACLU Urges Colorado Sheriffs to Reduce Jail Population During COVID-19 Crisis
March 26, 2020 DENVER – ACLU of Colorado called on all Colorado sheriffs to collectively help stop the spread of COVID-19 by safely and swiftly reducing the jail population. In a letter that went out to sheriffs in 52 counties throughout the state, ACLU of Colorado cited the medical necessity of drastically reducing community spread in county jails as a matter of public health and constitutional duty. “This epidemic has the potential to become the Coming Prison Plague,” Dr. Franco-Paredes,.... | Read More
ACLU of Colorado Statement on Gov. Polis’ Guidance to Local Law Enforcement
March 25, 2020 Statement by: ACLU of Colorado, Office of the State Public Defender, Office of Alternate Defense Counsel, Colorado Criminal Defense Bar, Denver Municipal Public Defender, Colorado Freedom Fund and Office of Respondent Parent Counsel. On March 17, nine criminal justice and indigent defense organizations sent a letter to Governor Polis and Chief Justice Coats, among others, urging immediate action to address the heightened risk of COVID-19 spreading to incarcerated.... | Read More
Colorado Now the 22nd State to Repeal the Death Penalty
Even in the midst of coronavirus shut-downs, we have an opportunity today to celebrate. Today, Governor Jared Polis signed Senate Bill 100 repealing the death penalty in Colorado and clearing death row. This long-overdue achievement makes Colorado the 22nd state to repeal the death penalty, finally ending this broken, costly, and unjust system in our state. As I complete my last month as Executive Director of the ACLU of Colorado after almost eight years in this position, I am particularly happy.... | Read More
ACLU of Colorado is Calling for the Release of Incarcerated Youth to Prevent a Public Health Crisis
March 19, 2020 DENVER — Today a coalition of organizations sent a letter to Colorado juvenile justice officials outlining immediate actions to take to protect incarcerated children. As these youth are particularly vulnerable to the COVID-19 pandemic, we are asking system actors to respond swiftly to recommendations put forth by public health experts — specifically calling for the immediate release of youth identified by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) as vulnerable, as.... | Read More
Governor and State Officials Urged to Reduce Jail and Prison Population During COVID-19 Pandemic
March 17, 2020 DENVER – With the number of confirmed cases of Coronavirus/COVID-19 climbing in Colorado, several organizations called on Governor Polis, State Court Administrator Vasconcellos, and Chief Justice Coats, as well as the Colorado Department of Corrections, the Colorado Parole Board and the Colorado Department of Safety, to take immediate action to protect the lives of vulnerable inmates, guards, correctional and court staff, attorneys, probation officers, parole officers, their families.... | Read More
Notice from the Executive Director
To protect our staff and the public from the COVID-19 coronavirus, staff of the ACLU of Colorado will be working from home for at least the next two weeks starting Monday, March 16. Please do not come to our office, which will be closed, but be assured that we will still be working hard to protect civil rights and civil liberties in Colorado. Your patience is appreciated with any returned deliveries or delays in processing of mail. For legal intakes, you are encouraged to use our web-based form if.... | Read More