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. 

Organizations call on CO to End Unjust & Expensive Death Penalty

October 10, 2013

Faith, Social Justice, and Civil Rights Organizations call on Colorado to End Unjust and Expensive Death Penalty

Coalition releases new data comparing added costs of death penalty trials with cuts to public priorities and services

DENVER – A broad and diverse coalition of faith organizations, civil rights activists, and community leaders gathered this morning at the state capitol to mark World End the Death Penalty Day and to call for an end to the death penalty in Colorado.

The event featured personal stories and reflections on the death penalty’s unjust and biased application and its damaging effect on communities, families, and individuals.

“When it comes to the death penalty, race matters,” said Lisa Calderon of the Colorado Latino Forum. “Race influences which cases are chosen for possible capital prosecution. Race affects the makeup of the juries that determine sentences. Racial bias and racial effect has been shown to not be an anomaly, but a constant presence time and time again."

Coloradoans for Alternatives to the Death Penalty and the American Civil Liberties Union of Colorado released new analysis demonstrating the burden that taxpayers take on to fund expensive death penalty trials, which cost on average about twenty times more than a trial for life without parole. From records procured through public information requests, the groups estimate that the average death penalty trial costs $3.5 million versus about $150,000 for a trial for life without parole.

As Nathan Woodliff-Stanley of the ACLU pointed out, the $3.5 million price tag would pay more than 70 teachers’ salaries for a year or buy 40,000 new textbooks. It could also be used to hire 77 new firefighters or 115 EMTS and paramedics to respond to emergencies and natural disasters.

“At a time when necessary services are being slashed and popular programs eliminated throughout the state, it’s irresponsible for prosecutors to spend millions of taxpayer dollars on death penalty trials, when life without parole would cost so much less,” said Woodliff-Stanley.

The event also featured Sister Ilaria Buonriposi of the Catholic Mobilization Network, a nationally-renowned advocate for eradicating the death penalty, who gave presentations on the subject earlier this week to all three Catholic Dioceses in Colorado.
“Catholic teaching on human life is rooted in the belief that all life is a gift from God that must be respected and defended from conception to natural death,” said Buonriposi.

Others speakers at the event included Robert Dewey, a man who spent 18 years in prison and faced death for a crime he did not commit, Boulder County District Attorney Stan Garnett, Reverend Dawn Riley Duval of Shorter Community AME Church, Lisa Cisneros of Coloradans for Alternatives to the Death Penalty, and Sharletta Evans, the mother of a murder victim who believes the death penalty wastes resources that could help family members heal and find true justice.

World End the Death Penalty Day was launched in 2003 by non-government organizations, bar associations, local governments, and unions around the world with a shared goal of eliminating all forms and uses of capital punishment.

For the new death penalty cost analysis from ACLU of Colorado and Coloradans for Alternatives to the Death Penalty:

For an infographic:

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