Colorado Rights Blog


  • 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. 

  • 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.

    Read more about Ronald Johnson and other at-risk incarcerated people.

  • 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.

Organizations call on CO to end unjust & expensive death penalty

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:

Return to News