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Ernest LuningErnest LuningJanuary 3, 201810min796

The battle is heating up over how Colorado draws its legislative and congressional boundaries. After failing to knock out a pair of proposed redistricting and reapportionment ballot measures in court, a rough coalition of mostly liberal and good-government groups filed competing ballot measures in late December and is vowing to take the choice before voters this fall — potentially a case of, if you can't beat 'em in court, join 'em on the ballot.


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Peter MarcusPeter MarcusJuly 24, 20174min326

The ACLU of Colorado filed a federal class action lawsuit last week aimed at pressuring the Colorado Department of Corrections to expand treatment for prisoners with Hepatitis C.

The civil rights group says as many as 2,200 prisoners are suffering from the life-threatening illness.

“Colorado has an immense public health crisis in its prisons,” said Mark Silverstein, legal director for the ACLU of Colorado.

He pointed out that one-in-nine prisoners suffers from Hepatitis C. Complications from the disease kill nearly as many Coloradans in custody every year as drug and alcohol abuse, homicide, and suicide combined, Silverstein said.

“Highly effective treatment is available that could prevent deaths and fight the spread of the virus, but DOC’s cruel and arbitrary standards deny that treatment to all but a select few prisoners, in violation of established medical standards and the Eighth Amendment,” Silverstein said.

The Department of Corrections says it has cared for 80 prisoners with new treatment options over the past two years. The department is working to expand treatment needs.

Hepatitis C is a chronic communicable disease that attacks the liver, causing diminished function, cirrhosis, and liver failure. It is the most deadly infectious disease in the U.S., killing more Americans than the next 60 infectious diseases combined.

Early stages of the disease involves chronic fatigue, depression, arthritis, as well as an increased risk of heart attacks, diabetes, nerve damage, jaundice, and various cancers.

The FDA has approved breakthrough medications over the past four years that can cure the disease in more than 90 percent of cases. Colorado prisons officials are working to expand implementation of the drugs.

But the ACLU of Colorado says prisoners suffering from Hepatitis C are not considered for treatment until they have sustained significant liver damage. Prisoners are required to enroll in alcohol and drug therapy that can take more than two years to complete, a requirement that, according to the ACLU complaint, has no medical justification.

The ACLU’s complaint alleges that DOC officials are deliberately allowing the vast majority of prisoners who are not selected for treatment to suffer and die from untreated Hepatitis C.

Based on the Department of Correction’s current schedule, it would take more than 10 years to treat the 735 prisoners that are currently eligible for the new drugs, according to the ACLU complaint.

“Despite the availability of a cure, DOC plans to leave thousands of prisoners untreated, to continue releasing those untreated prisoners back to the community with a communicable disease, and to accept years of additional deaths and serious medical complications from untreated Hepatitis C,” Silverstein said.  “Not only is that dangerous for public health, it is a cruel way to save some money in the short term that may end up costing taxpayers a lot more in the long term.”



Joey BunchJoey BunchFebruary 23, 20176min499
House Democrats predictably killed a Republican bill to hold elected officials responsible for crimes committed by undocumented immigrants in a sanctuary city. The State, Veterans and Military Affairs Committee heard six hours of testimony that swung from anger toward undocumented immigrants to a defense of them and human rights. Opponents saw the bill as a step toward […]

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Dan NjegomirDan NjegomirFebruary 22, 20173min375

Denver authorities were told by a court today to back off of their new policy banning suspected lawbreakers from parks without hearings or other due process.

The American Civil Liberties Union of Colorado issued a statement lauding the county court ruling by Judge Clarisse Gonzales, dismissing all charges against Troy Holm, who could have gone to jail for up to a year after he entered a park where he had been banned under the city’s directive.

According to Denverite, Holm, who was represented in court by the ACLU, had been banned from Denver’s Commons Park by a police officer who said he had seen Holm illegally in possession of marijuana. Under the much-debated policy implemented by the city last year, Holm wasn’t arrested or charged with any crime; he was handed a document informing him he was banned from the park for three months. When he allegedly returned only days later, he then was charged with trespassing under the same new law.

In today’s ruling, the court found police were given sweeping discretion that violated civil rights:

“As the park suspensions under Temporary Directive 2016-1 take effect immediately, within the pure unchecked discretion of any police officer on the scene, and with a complete lack of pre-deprivation Due Process, the suspensions violate procedural Due Process protections and are found unconstitutional for this reason.”

Here’s more from the ACLU’s public statement to the press:

“By authorizing police to issue so-called suspension notices that immediately made it a crime to enter a public park, Denver attempted an end-run around the Constitution and the Bill of Rights,” said Mark Silverstein, ACLU Legal Director.  “The court’s ruling affirms a bedrock principle of due process: the government cannot take away our rights without first providing, at a minimum, notice of the accusation and a fair opportunity to defend against it.”



Colorado PoliticsColorado PoliticsDecember 13, 201616min353

DENVER — Good Tuesday to you … And for those keeping tabs: 11 days until Christmas, 18 days until New Years and 37 days until the inauguration of Donald Trump. Or as detractors call it, the end of civilization as we know it. Outside of a federal judge calling the lawsuit of two electoral defectors a ‘political stunt,’ the best story of the morning is continued speculation that Broncos superhero John Elway has sights set on being Colorado’s next governor. Elway is probably more likely to return as Bronco quarterback than run toward the gal of becoming Colorado’s next captain. But … every year, like children waiting for Santa to squeeze his spare tire down the chimney, it's fun for the GOP to dream, we guess.