The Redemption Campaign is a statewide effort to liberate 1,000s of people from Colorado prisons over the next 5 years by challenging Governor Polis to use existing clemency powers in new and transformational ways. Our mission is to replace the architecture of mass incarceration with a roadmap to redemption. See the redemption campaign in action below as we work to bring people safely home from prison.

Learn More about the Redemption Campaign

Urge Governor Polis to Safely Release People From Prison 

March 17, 2020 - Letter to the Governor

ACLU of Colorado and eight  criminal justice and indigent defense organizations  sent a letter to Governor Polis and Chief Justice Coats, among others, urging immediate action to address the heightened risk of COVID-19 spreading to incarcerated individuals, correctional staff and, ultimately, the public.

Read the full letter sent to Governor Polis and other state officials

March 19, 2020 - Letter to Colorado Juvenile Justice Officials

ACLU of Colorado and eleven organizations sent a letter to Colorado juvenile justice officials outlining immediate actions to take to protect incarcerated children. 

Read the letter sent to Colorado juvenile justice officials

March 22, 2020 - Letter from an Infectious Disease Expert

Dr. Carlos Franco-Paredes, an infectious disease expert at the University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus, sent a letter to policymakers, judicial officers, sheriffs, wardens and parole boards, stating his concerns about the spread of COVID-19 in jails and prisons.

"The conditions in these facilities do not allow for appropriate infection control protocols and will make the current COVID-19 pandemic worse. Incarcerated populations have higher rates of underlying illness and, by extension, will have a higher case fatality rate."

Read Dr. Franco-Paredes' letter to policymakers and criminal legal system officials

March 24, 2020 - Governor Polis' Guidance to Law Enforcement

Governor Polis issued guidance to Colorado counties, municipalities, law enforcement agencies and detentions centers, emphasizing the need to incarcerate fewer people in the wake of the COVID-19 public health crisis.

Read Governor Polis’ Guidance to Counties, Municipalities, Law Enforcement Agencies, and Detention Centers

March 25, 2020 - Our Statement on the Governor's Guidance

ACLU of Colorado released a statement commending Governor Polis for putting science and public health above politics by urging localities to take immediate action to safely and substantially reduce the jail population. We called upon the Chief Justice to ensure that every judge responds with equal haste to lower jail populations across the state. 

Read the ACLU of Colorado Statement on Gov. Polis' Guidance to Local Law Enforcement

March 25, 2020 - Governor Polis Issues an Executive Order

The Governor issued and Executive Order to aid in lowering the prisoner population in state prisons and community corrections. Polis' action suspended state laws to increase the authority of the Executive Director of the Department of Corrections to release certain incarcerated people.

Read Governor Polis' Executive Order 

March 26, 2020 - Letter to Colorado Sheriffs

ACLU of Colorado sent a letter to all Colorado sheriffs to collectively help stop the spread of COVID-19 by safely and swiftly reducing the jail population.

Read the ACLU of Colorado letter to sheriffs

April 3, 2020 - Coalition Files Lawsuit

The Office of the Colorado State Public Defender, Colorado Criminal Defense Bar and the Office of Alternate Defense Counsel filed two emergency petitions today asking the Colorado Supreme Court to take immediate action to limit the spread of COVID-19 in Colorado jails. The ACLU of Colorado, Colorado Criminal Justice Reform Coalition, Disability Law Colorado, Colorado Lawyers Committee and the Lawyers Civil Rights Coalition joined the petition as parties in interest.

Read the petition

April 8, 2020 - Class Action Lawsuit filed against Weld County Sheriff

ACLU and civil rights attorneys filed a class action lawsuit in federal court, seeking an emergency order to compel Weld County Sheriff Steve Reams to comply with COVID-19 public health guidelines – including physical distancing – for all high-risk people being held in the Weld County Jail.

Read the release here.

May 8, 2020 - Coalition letter to Governor Polis to Stop COVID-19 From Becoming a Death Sentence for People in Prisons

Several organizations called on Governor Polis today to assert his executive authority and clemency powers to protect the most vulnerable people in prisons before it’s too late. In a letter sent to the Governor, the organizations cited new data proving that his actions to date are insufficient to protect the lives of elderly and medically compromised people in prisons, correctional staff and the community at large.

Read the letter here.

May 11, 2020 - Federal Judge Orders Weld County Jail to Protect Medically Vulnerable People From COVID-19

A federal judge issued a 39-page ruling holding that the U.S. Constitution requires that Weld County Sheriff Steve Reams provide special protections to medically vulnerable people incarcerated in the Weld County Jail. Judge Phillip A. Brimmer’s order was issued after a full-day evidentiary hearing on April 30 in a class action lawsuit filed by a team of ACLU and civil right attorneys seeking an order to compel Sheriff Reams to comply with public health guidelines — including physical distancing — for all high-risk people being held at the jail. 

Read the release here.

May 27, 2020 - Advocates to Governor Polis: Failure to Renew Prison Executive Order Will Cause Needless Suffering and Death

Several criminal justice organizations slammed Governor Polis’ decision to not renew parts of his Executive Order, which granted the Colorado Department of Corrections broad authority to safely release thousands of people from prisons in an effort to slow the spread of COVID-19 inside facilities and ultimately save lives. The Governor’s decision to halt the order comes on the heels of an April analysis provided to CDOC that predicted COVID-19 would infect more than 16,000 people living and working in the prisons and kill 150 to 170 incarcerated people and 73 to 80 staffers if prison populations aren’t reduced.

Read the statement here.

May 27, 2020 - No One Deserves to Die From COVID-19

Colorado recently abolished the death penalty, and yet older and medically vulnerable Coloradans are facing a death sentence in prisons that will not protect them from the virus. We must continue to safely lower jail and prison populations in order to save lives. No one deserves to die from COVID-19. 

Read the story collection here.

May 28, 2020 - ACLU Files Class Action Lawsuit against Governor and DOC for Failure to Protect Medically Vulnerable People in Prison from COVID-19

ACLU of Colorado filed a class action lawsuit today against Governor Polis and the Department of Corrections seeking an emergency order to compel the DOC to protect medically vulnerable incarcerated people from COVID-19. The requested order includes prioritizing the release of people who are older, sick, or otherwise vulnerable to serious illness or death from COVID-19 and who pose no threat to public safety. ACLU’s lawsuit comes on the heels of DOC modeling that projects thousands of incarcerated people and staff will become infected and hundreds will die if prison populations are not reduced.

Read the release here.

June 23, 2020 -  ACLU sends letters to Colorado Sheriffs on their duty to protect high-risk people in prison from COVID-19. 

ACLU of Colorado sent letters to Colorado Sheriffs to ensure they were aware of both the Colorado federal court order outlining sheriffs’ obligations to take aggressive protective action on behalf of medically vulnerable incarcerated people and the correlating imperative to maintain lower jail populations while COVID-19 remains a threat.

Read the letter here.

August 26, 2020 -  ACLU hosts COVID-19 decarceration panel to lift up the voices of family members whose loved ones are incarcerated. 

ACLU of Colorado held a webinar panel on the need to decarcerate. Panelists included attorneys involved in the lawsuit against the Colorado Department of Corrections and family members whose loved ones are incarcerated during this pandemic. The other 300 attendees heard about conditions in Colorado’s prisons, learned about the urgent need to reduce the number of people in prison and took action to safely release at-risk incarcerated Coloradans.

Read move about the event here.

August 27, 2020 -  ACLU and over 50 nonprofits in Colorado join together for a Decarceration Day of Action. 

Nonprofits across the state mobilized their supporters to call, email and contact Governor Polis on social media and urge him to safely release the elderly and at-risk from unsafe, overcrowded prisons in Colorado, and save lives now.

Read move about the event here.

January 12, 2021 -  Launch of Colorado's Redemption Campaign 

In an ad launched today, local NFL professional athletes have teamed up with ACLU of Colorado, urging Governor Jared Polis to use his clemency powers to safely release medically vulnerable people from prison during the COVID-19 pandemic. The ad is part of the launch of Colorado’s Redemption Campaign, a statewide initiative to safely release thousands of people who pose no public safety risk from Colorado prisons by challenging Governor Polis to use existing clemency powers in new and transformational ways.

Read the press release announcing the campaign and Broncos ads.

Founding organizational partners of the Redemption Campaign include Second Chance Center, Colorado Criminal Justice Reform Coalition, Office of the Colorado State Public Defender, the Powell Project and the ACLU of Colorado. 


  1. Email Governor Polis urging him to use his clemency powers to safely release people from prison.
  2. Join the Redemption Campaign. Add your email to receive updates on the campaign and how you can help.
  3. Use this social media toolkit to urge Governor Polis to safely release people from prison. The toolkit has graphics, links and sample language on the redemption campaign and the urgent need for release.

January 14, 2021 -  De'Vante Bausby Urges the Governor To Release People 

In this personal video, De’Vante Bausby urges Governor Polis to use his clemency powers to safely release people from prison. He shares his story and why he believes in rehabilitation, healing and second chances. Redemption is real. Clemency is compassion. We ask Governor Polis to extend a hand.

January 14, 2021 -  Redemption Campaign Webinar 

Watch the recording of “The Redemption Campaign: Embracing Clemency Webinar” to learn about the Redemption Campaign in an educational webinar. Hear from family members with incarcerated loved ones, learn more about mass incarceration in Colorado and find out why the Governor must use his clemency powers to bring our neighbors safely home.

January 15, 2021 -  Anthony Martinez Comes Home

Today, 84-year-old Anthony Martinez leaves his cell in Sterling after 30 years and meets his niece Kelly for the first time. He is one of only four people granted clemency by Governor Polis. In the midst of this public health crisis, many more incarcerated people as vulnerable as Anthony, could and should be immediately released to safely live out their remaining years with family.

Watch Anthony Martinez Come Home

“I’m grateful that Governor Polis released my uncle but I wish he’d release more people,” says Kelly, ” I don’t think people understand how hard these long sentences are on families. We do the time along with them. My uncle was in prison for over 30 years and now I can take him home. I hope other families don’t have to wait that long. The Governor has the power to bring more people back together People are so much more than their crime.”

Read more stories of incarcerated people and their families. 

January 19, 2021 -  Alexander Johnson Shares His Story 

In this heartfelt video, Alexander Johnson shares his story as a dad and Black man in America and joins the Redemption Campaign to safely release thousands of people from Colorado prisons by challenging Governor Polis to use his clemency powers. Read more about the Broncos partnership with the Redemption Campaign.


To call the Governor:

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