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. 

State Shuts Down Solitary Confinement of Children at El Pueblo

May 6, 2013

The Colorado Department of Human Services (DHS) issued an investigation report last Friday citing numerous violations of child care regulations, including the use of solitary confinement on children, at El Pueblo Boys and Girls Ranch and ordering the facility to suspend operation of its so-called “reflection cottages.”

The investigation, which was prompted by an April 11 letter from the ACLU of Colorado, confirmed that children at the facility, including those with mental and developmental disabilities, were routinely confined in concrete rooms, called “reflection cottages” by the facility, against their will and denied access to educational programming and outdoor exercise for days and sometimes weeks at a time.

DHS ordered the facility to suspend operation of the “reflection cottages” until full compliance with all state rules and regulations is achieved and a “clinical and educational foundation” for their use is developed and approved, in advance and in writing, by the agency.

“We applaud the Department of Human Services for its swift and thorough response and for sending a clear message to El Pueblo and other facilities in the state that they cannot impose solitary confinement on children or deprive them of education and outdoor exercise,” said ACLU of Colorado Legal Director Mark Silverstein.

The DHS investigation confirmed the three main allegations made by the ACLU of Colorado. According to the report, “Based on interviews and observations, youth were often secluded, prohibited from interacting with others, had little educational programming, little clinical intervention, and no opportunity for recreation.”

Seclusion is defined by DHS as “placement of a youth alone in a room from which egress is involuntarily prevented.” DHS concluded that El Pueblo staff prevented children from leaving the rooms by threatening punishment and lost privileges, as well as by physically holding and blocking the doors.

Photos (1,2) of the “reflection cottages” taken during the investigation reveal desolate concrete rooms with no other feature than a slab for a bed. According to the report, “many of the rooms in the reflection cottages had the paint worn off of the door frames, on each side, at the height of the window suggesting many of the youth are standing behind the bedroom doors for extended periods of time.”

DHS child care regulations clearly prohibit seclusion of children “except in emergency situations and only after all less restrictive alternatives have been exhausted.” The rules also specify that seclusion should not exceed two hours except in the most extraordinary cases and should end when the emergency passes. The DHS investigation confirmed that El Pueblo had confined children, in non-emergency situations, for far longer than two hours, often as long as 7-14 days.

“We heard stories from so many children of hours and days spent staring at brick walls and reliving past traumas,” said Rebecca Wallace, ACLU staff attorney. “Following the decisive action taken by DHS, we are pleased that children will no longer be forced to relive their nightmares in solitary confinement at El Pueblo.”

See also: 
Stories of Solitary Confinement from Children at El Pueblo
DHS Report of Investigation
Photos of the “reflection cottages”
ACLU of Colorado Demands DHS end Solitary Confinement of Children
More information on this case, including ACLU of Colorado’s two letters to DHS 

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