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  • 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.

Senate passes ban on long-term solitary confinement of inmates with serious mental illness

Statement of ACLU of Colorado Public Policy Director Denise Maes

“Today’s unanimous passage of Senate Bill 64 is further evidence of a growing consensus among lawmakers, prison officials, and civil liberties advocates in Colorado that warehousing prisoners with mental illness in long-term solitary confinement is a cruel, costly, and unlawful practice that unnecessarily jeopardizes public safety.

“The legislation, championed by Senator Jesse Ulibarri, solidifies and provides critical funding to implement reforms initiated recently by the Department of Corrections to provide adequate out-of-cell treatment for prisoners with serious mental illness, rather than sticking those prisoners in 23 hour-a-day solitary cells.  Treatment aimed at rehabilitation is critical, because 97% of today’s prison population will eventually be back in our communities and live as our neighbors.

“The ACLU of Colorado urges swift action in the House to finalize this groundbreaking legislation and deliver it to the Governor.”

Visit the Stop Solitary campaign page: https://aclu-co.org/campaigns/stop-solitary/

Out of Sight, Out of Mind – The Story of Sam Mandez: http://vimeo.com/78840078

Read our report on mentally ill Colorado prisoners in solitary confinement: https://aclu-co.org/news/co-prisons-continue-to-warehouse-mentally-ill-in-solitary-confinement



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