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. 

Victories Under The Dome

We had an ambitious legislative agenda entering into the 2019 session and are happy to announce a series of successes. First, we championed legislation that will fund for the first time in our state’s history, comprehensive sex education for schools seeking to adopt such a curriculum. We were able to champion legislation that will bring some relief to our immigrant friends and neighbors and advanced legislation that will reform aspects of our cruel bail system. You made this happen and we thank you for your help and support. Let’s take a look at the rest of our successes:

Reproductive Rights:

HB 19-1032: Comprehensive Human Sexuality Education –  Creates a $1 million program so schools can provide students with the tools they need to make healthy choices and ensures sex ed programs don’t shame or stigmatize students.

Immigrants Rights:

HB 19-1124: Protect Colorado Residents From Federal Government Overreach – Builds trust and promotes public safety by limiting probation cooperation with ICE, ends the unconstitutional practice of relying on warrantless ICE detainers and protects the rights of Coloradans by ensuring everyone receives a written advisement before questioning.

Juvenile Justice:

HB 19-1335: Juvenile Expungement – Creates opportunities for youth to clear their criminal records and get a fresh start.

HB 19-1042: Extend Court Jurisdiction For Vulnerable Youth – Allows Colorado courts to appoint guardians for vulnerable immigrant youth between 18 and 21 who have been abandoned, abused or neglected, thus ensuring their long-term well-being.

SB 19-108: Juvenile Justice Reform – Ensures Colorado’s youth are not left behind bars by providing much-needed services and promoting alternatives to incarceration.

SB 19-136: Expand Division Youth Services Pilot Program – Funds a second program for youth in juvenile facilities that moves away from a punitive approach to one based on providing treatment and care so youth can successfully transition back into their communities.

Criminal Justice Reform:

HB 19-1225: No Monetary Bail For Certain Low-level Offenses – Ensures that poverty is not a crime and prevents judges from setting monetary bonds for petty and traffic violations. 

HB 19-1263: Offense Level For Controlled Substance Possession – Changes low-level drug felony possession to a misdemeanor and provides substance abuse and mental health services for those incarcerated and struggling with addiction.

HB 19-1266: Restore Voting Rights for Parolees – Defends the founding American principle that in a democracy, voting is a right, not a privilege.

HB 19-1297: Jail Capacity Data Collection – Establishes a statewide data collection system for Colorado’s jails so policymakers can make data-driven decisions to improve public safety, reduce costs and identify areas for reform.

SB 19-036: State Court Administrator Reminder Program – Creates texts that remind people of their court date to reduce failures to appear and prevent needless incarceration.

SB 19-191: Prompt Pretrial Liberty And Fairness – Allows people to post bond within 2 hours, ensures people are released within 4 hours after posting bond and limits excessive fees to no more than $10.

SB 19-1119: Peace Officer Internal Investigation Open Records – Promotes government transparency and accountability by allowing public access to these files after the investigation is complete.

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