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  • 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: acluco.org/redemption. 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 https://action.aclu.org/give/support-aclu-colorado

  • 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. 

Report: Too Many Teens in Solitary Confinement

October 10, 2012

ACLU, Human Rights Watch Call for Ban on Solitary and an End to Housing Adolescents with Adults Behind Bars

WASHINGTON — Young people are held in solitary confinement in jails and prisons across the United States, often for weeks or months at a time, the American Civil Liberties Union and Human Rights Watch said in a report released today.

The report, “Growing Up Locked Down: Youth in Solitary Confinement in Jails and Prisons Across the United States,” is based on research in both U.S. jails and prisons in five states ¬– Colorado, Florida, Michigan, New York, and Pennsylvania – and correspondence with young people in 14 others. The isolation of solitary confinement causes anguish, provokes serious mental and physical health problems, and works against rehabilitation for teenagers, the report found.

“Locking kids in solitary confinement with little or no contact with other people is cruel, harmful, and unnecessary,” said Ian Kysel, Aryeh Neier Fellow with the ACLU and HRW and author of the report. “Normal human interaction is essential to the healthy development and rehabilitation of young people; to cut that off helps nobody.”

The report is based on interviews and correspondence with more than 125 young people in 19 states who spent time in solitary confinement while under age 18, as well as with jail and/or prison officials in 10 states.

The report calls for a

  • Ban on solitary confinement for youths under 18 because it is costly and ineffective.
  • Prohibition on housing adolescents with adults in facilities designed to house only adults to reduce the chances of abuse from other prisoners and because these facilities are not equipped to manage the developmental needs of adolescents.
  • Strict limit on all forms of isolation of young people and a move toward discipline that is proportional to the infraction.

The groups estimate that in 2011, more than 95,000 youths under age 18 were held in prisons and jails. A significant number of these facilities use solitary confinement – for days, weeks, months, or even years – to punish, protect, house, or treat some of the young people held there.

Because young people are still developing, traumatic experiences like solitary confinement may have a profound effect on their chance to rehabilitate and grow, the groups found. Solitary confinement can exacerbate short- and long-term mental health problems or make it more likely that such problems will develop. Young people in solitary confinement are routinely denied access to treatment, services, and programming required to meet their medical, psychological, developmental, social, and rehabilitative needs.

Young people interviewed repeatedly described how solitary confinement compounded the stress of being imprisoned. They spoke about cutting themselves with staples or razors while in solitary, having hallucinations, and losing touch with reality. Several said they had attempted suicide multiple times in solitary confinement.

“Being in isolation to me felt like I was on an island all alone, dying a slow death from the inside out,” said “Kyle B.”, from California, who spent time in solitary confinement while under age 18.

There are alternative ways to address the problems – whether disciplinary, administrative, protective, or medical – that officials typically cite to justify using solitary confinement, the report said, including specialized facilities organized to encourage positive behavior.

“No one believes that locking a teenager in a closet is an effective way to improve either their behavior or their character, much less to protect them long term,” Kysel said. “Young people have rights and needs that are different from adults; jail and prison practices should reflect those differences and promote their ability to grow and change – we should invest in youth, not banish them.”

To read more about ACLU efforts to end solitary confinement, click here.

Links to the report and to multimedia features can be found here.



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