Colorado Rights Blog


  • 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.

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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