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. 

Prepared Testimony of ACLU of Colorado Executive Director Nathan Woodliff-Stanley on the Right to Rest Act

April 15, 2015

DENVER – Today, the State, Veterans, and Military Affairs Committee of the Colorado House of Representatives will hear testimony on House Bill 1264, a bill to ensure that all people, regardless of their economic circumstances or social status, have the right to rest and move about in public places without fear of being ticketed, harassed, or arrested.

The following is the prepared testimony of ACLU of Colorado Executive Nathan Woodliff-Stanley on HB 1264:

It has become clear to the ACLU that the Right to Rest Act is both timely and desperately needed.

There has been a rapid acceleration in the past few years of municipalities across Colorado criminalizing homelessness, making it illegal to do everything necessary for survival when homeless, including the harmless act of sleeping or resting, by banning it pretty much anywhere.

Having no home is not a crime, but it is difficult to find people in that circumstance who have not experienced ticketing, arrest, jail time, unaffordable fines or harsh encounters with law enforcement, mostly just for existing in the wrong place and time, violating curfew or loitering laws, ordinances against camping or even sitting, lying down, or sleeping in your own legally parked car.

Without a state law protecting peaceful rest and survival for those without a home, we will continue to see a race to the bottom as municipalities compete to be the most hostile to people experiencing homelessness, hoping to drive them somewhere else, anywhere else.

I could share countless stories and examples, such as our client David Madison who was turned away from homeless shelters with no more room on a cold night in Boulder, arrested under a camping ban for using a sleeping bag.  He could have legally slept in only his clothes at 11 degrees, but the sleeping bag counted as illegal shelter, so he was treated as a criminal.

In Fort Collins, the ACLU found that police were arresting people under aggressive panhandling laws for silently holding signs, going far beyond the law itself, as well as Constitutional boundaries.  In Wheat Ridge, laws against loitering on school grounds are being used to arrest people for sitting on park benches nowhere near a school.  In Larimer County there has been a spike in arrests around homelessness, and these arrests are costly.  In a four-year period ending August of 2014, taxpayers had to pay for Larimer County jails to hold people who were homeless or transient for 96,475 inmate days.

It is hard enough to be homeless without facing a constant threat of arrest, often literally for doing nothing, being pushed out of public spaces that are supposed to be public, having your civil liberties violated and being unable to meet your most basic human needs, including simple rest.  I have to ask, if you truly have no home, just where exactly are you supposed to go?

Read the Colorado Right to Rest Act:

Visit the ACLU of Colorado Criminalization of Homelessness campaign page:

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