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. 

Super Lawyer; Former Vice-Presidential Staffer Denise Maes Named Public Policy Director at ACLU of Colorado

The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Colorado announces that former White House staff member Denise Maes will join the ACLU as Director of Public Policy, succeeding Jessie Ulibarri, who has resigned his position.

An experienced policy and litigation strategist who most recently directed budget and finance efforts for the Office of Vice President Joseph Biden and served as General Counsel in the Office of Administration for President Barack Obama, Maes brings to the ACLU of Colorado more than 20 years of experience practicing law in both the public and private sectors.

“Denise is a stellar addition to our senior staff team at the ACLU of Colorado,” said Executive Director C. Ray Drew. “Her significant experience working in the legal, legislative and public policy arms of the highest echelons of government – as well as her connection to the state of Colorado through years of nonprofit and other activism – will serve the ACLU of Colorado well.

“We can think of no one more uniquely positioned to carry on the legislative and public policy work Jessie Ulibarri has started at the ACLU of Colorado than Denise Maes.”

A native of Taos, New Mexico, Maes – a graduate of the University Of New Mexico School Of Law — is a first generation college graduate in her family. An experienced environmental attorney who has worked on a number of high-profile hazardous waste and environmental justice cases, Maes is an expert both in municipal and administrative law and land use issues. After being named one of Denver’s Top Seven Women Lawyers by Law Week Colorado in 2009, she left the firm of Berenbaum Weinshienk & Eason, where she was partner, to serve as General Counsel for the White House Office of Administration in the Executive Office of President Barack Obama.

Despite her highly-impressive work in nation’s Capital, it is her strong ties to Colorado and passion for civil rights and social justice that bring Denise Maes back to a place she calls “home.” She has served as Chair of the Denver Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, Chair of Mi Casa Resource Center for Women, Director of the Downtown Denver Partnership, Director of the Colorado Women’s Bar and Hispanic Bar associations, and was Director and Co-founder of the Latina Initiative.

Celebrated in the legal, business, social justice and Latina/o communities, she was lauded in 2010 as “Barrister of the Year” by The Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender Community Center of Colorado (The Center).

Jessie Ulibarri, her predecessor at the ACLU, said with Denise Maes, the ACLU’s legislative and policy work is in good hands.
“Denise Maes has the vision and experience to continue our ambitious public policy work promoting smart criminal justice reforms, protecting voting rights, and upholding the ACLU’s core mission of defending civil rights and civil liberties for all people.”

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