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. 

Vote Yes on V to Give Youth a Voice

By Emma Davis
Youth Volunteer, ACLU of Colorado
October 15, 2018

Since the 2016 election, I have been active in the ACLU of Colorado. I’ve lobbied, phone-banked, spoken at events and been to countless protests. During the legislative session, I am constantly visiting state legislators, talking to aides and working to convince our representatives to vote “yes” or “no” on certain bills. But I’m still just a teenager. Right now, my opportunities are limited, but someday, I hope to become a state lawmaker. I want to represent the people of Colorado, and think it is incredibly important to have young and fresh perspectives in our legislature.

Unfortunately, as of now, it will be a while before I get to do that. Currently, the Colorado  Constitution says that to become a state legislator, you must be at least 25 years of age. This restricts the age of our representatives and discourages young people from getting involved in politics. It cuts off new perspectives and fresh ideas from being introduced at our state Capitol. We need to fix this.

Amendment V provides a way to solve this problem. Earlier this year, state legislators proposed a bill that would amend the state constitution, lowering the age from twenty-five to twenty-one. It was then placed on the state ballot for the upcoming November election. We are one of only seven states in the U.S. with a minimum age of more than twenty-one for members of the legislature. We need to follow the examples of other states that recognize how important it is to give young adults a voice in their state assemblies. Alabama passed an amendment in 2016 that removed age restrictions on government officials. In Alabama’s 2014 general election, adults aged 18-29 represented only 12% of the vote. In the 2017  Alabama Special U.S. Senate Election, 23% of young adults turned out to vote. Perhaps this dramatic rise in young voter turnout could be related to youth feeling like they not only have a voice at the voting booth but feel more intimately tied to the whole political process.  With more opportunities to get involved in state politics, teens and young adults are more likely to vote and to become politically active. If Colorado adopts Amendment V, it will bring fresh perspectives and new ideas to the Capitol.

Broadening the perspectives and ideas on the Colorado legislature is an extremely important issue that needs to be dealt with. According to Ballotpedia, in 2015 our representatives were, on average, fifty-five years old, or nearly ten years older than the average Colorado adult. This is not an accurate representation of our population. With new and younger senators and representatives, there would be an increase in youth political participation and a chance to give young adults a voice in the most important issues our state is facing.

Opponents of Amendment V say that young adults under the age of twenty-five lack the maturity to make legislation. Critics think that young adults don’t have enough “life experience.” However, according to Colorado State Representative James Coleman, “If you can go fight in the military and you have to make critical decisions in the field of battle, then [lawmaking] is not hard…Serving in the military is hard. Getting shot at is hard.”

Decisions that our legislators make will have lasting impacts on young people and future generations.  Young adults should have a seat at the table when our state government considers legislation pertaining to education, civil rights, data privacy, our state’s environmental concerns, and many more pressing issues.

Passage of Amendment V in Colorado is a way to invest in our state’s future by bringing the voice of young adults into many vital conversations. Let’s allow younger perspectives to be heard in Colorado. Let’s vote “yes” on Amendment V.

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